NEW YORK CITY
Illmatic - Nas
It would almost make more sense to break down NYC by borough because of how culturally and musically diverse they are, but for the sake of this article, we decided to sum it up in one 10-track masterpiece. Illmatic is one of our genre's most celebrated albums, for good reason.
Nas' ability to paint a picture of what life is like in Queensbridge is almost too good. He focuses on all aspects of life in the ghettos of NYC with a distinct narrative that is easy to listen to over and over again. The reason this albums really hits home with all New Yorkers is because his perspective isn't just Queens-centric. Lines like "When I was young at this, I used to do my thing hard/Robbin' foreigners, take their wallets, their jewels, and rip their green cards/Dipped to the projects flashing my quick cash and/Got my first piece of ass smokin blunts with hash" speak to any young hustler in any borough.
"NY State Of Mind" is obviously the standout track that fills the "anthem" role on the album but deep cuts like "Memory Lane" and "The World Is Yours" have the power to make us feel like we are sitting right there in the park with Esco himself. Not to mention the inherently "New York" sounding beats from DJ Premier, Pete Rock and Large Professor. From top to bottom, Illmatic sums up New York and the people it houses in a way that no other album has ever done.