Nas is undoubtably one of the greatest to ever do it in hip hop and Illmatic is testament to that. 20 years after its release date, it is still seen as one of the greatest hip hop albums that has ever hit he charts. Nas has definitely got the lyrical ability that most of the world’s rappers strive for, and very few have ever achieved, and this shines through on Illmatic.
His lyrical ability is only outshone on this album by the very fact that it has lasted 20 years and can still paint a vivid picture today as it did back then, regardless of how many times you have heard it. He runs laps around almost all other rappers and is an Icon to all who wish to rap.
The production sounds like it is 20 years old, which is fair enough as it is 20 years old, and it is interesting to hear the array of remixes on the second disc and how the production could have been. Unfortunately, the remixes are only of a few tracks so it is not a whole “what could have been” disc.
The first disc is simply a remastered version of the original Illmatic album and the second disc is a couple of freestyles and remixes of original tracks. While this is not groundbreaking, it is a testament to the amount that can be done with Nas’ lyrics onto different beats and remixes. On a lot of tracks, you get so caught up in the lyricism that the beat almost seems unimportant, even though it is a boost to every track.
“It ain’t hard to tell” gets a total of 3 remixes, which is unsurprising as it is one of the best tracks off the album and each one is as good as the last, but with different feels for every one.
Overall, while it is a project that has been out for 20 years, it can still teach rappers about lyricism and everyone can learn about the conditions that Nas describes with such imagery that you can feel like your there. One of the greatest albums in hip hop history honoured as it rightly should be.