An Alternate Take On The Perception Of Nas’ Illmatic 20 Years Later
However, in 2014 everything is about sales, numbers, chart position, spins, “hotness” and “relevance.” It’s odd to see those that don’t appreciate the more lyrical, creative and artistic Rap of the day (let’s be honest, they just ignore it) heap praise on Illmatic considering if it came out today they’d probably think it was boring & opt to hear YG instead.
“Nas’ debut album was purposely built to stand the test of time and age like Pharrell Williams.”
If Illmatic dropped today, many of the bloggers who talk about what a masterpiece it was would clown it’s opening week sales and its “dated” sound. They’d remark that Nas needs production from DJ Mustard or Mike Will Made It and guest verses from 2 Chainz or Nicki Minaj. They’d treat him exactly like they do Roc Marciano and Ka today, like second or third tier citizens when they actually make the most concise, timeless Hip-Hop albums of the present day Rap world.
Illmatic was not an easily accessible rap project by any stretch of the imagination. It was geared towards those who appreciated music from previous eras and challenged the listener. It was dense, layered and took multiple listens to grasp even though it was short by 1994 rap album standards. In many ways it was a jazz album made for those that had the attention spans and a high enough level of maturity to fully accept it. It forced multiple producers to all get on the same page to craft a concise Rap album with no notable guest appearances other than unsigned MC AZ who opened the song Nas received The Source’s Hip-Hop Quotable Rhyme Of The Month for.
In an era of short attention spans and radio or club pandering, Illmatic sounds out of place; reason being is because it’s an example of painstakingly crafted art in an era of disposable music. It kills me that I see people who praise this album yet ignore modern Rap made that follow its example. Everything about Illmatic was made to appeal to a specialized audience as opposed to chasing big sales numbers. Nas’ debut album was purposely built to stand the test of time and age like Pharrell Williams. Each song was made with the mindset that it was part of a greater body of work.
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