Nas once famously rapped that “no idea’s original under the sun” and such ideology is golden for Hip-Hop culture. Each generation borrows from the last to create their own classic legacy, and our founding fathers sampled jazz, funk and soul to birth the foundation, musically.
As the 20th anniversary for his storied debut album, Illmatic approaches, a lot has been taking in consideration revolving around the album’s makeup. That includes the mug shot photo ofh him as a seven-year-old used for the front cover.
Said to be inspired by jazz group’s Howard Hanger Trio’s 1974 A Child Is Born, Illmatic has gone to be more than a blueprint for Hip-Hop albums regarding rhyme schemes, producer selection and conceptual outlines. That juvenile photo has been trending along since that April 19th release date.
This was infamously pointed out on Raekwon’s equally classic debut Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… where he and album’s co-star Ghostface Killah took Bad Boy Records to task for their 1995 “bite” on their Ready To Die cover. Inconspicuously, it too featured a child as its first impression and the Wu-Tang Clan cadre weren’t convinced it was a coincidence.
Nas eventually addressed the situation on 2002’s “Last Real N***a Alive” as he recounted, “Big was ahead of his time/Him and Raekwon my n****s/But dig it, they couldn’t get along/That’s when Ghostface said it on The Purple Tape/Bad Boy biting Nas album cover way/Big told me Rae was stealing my slang/And Rae told me out in Shaolin, Big would do the same thing/But I borrowed from both them n****s…” Like he said, no idea’s original, right?
So on that notion, we brought you an overview of 14 albums that borrowed–blatantly or indirectly–the Illmatic album cover concept. We’ll let you decide it they are an act of homage or swagger jacking.
Photo: Amazon, WENN