Nas Reflects On "Illmatic" Ahead Of Album's 30th Anniversary

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Nas (aka Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones), Vorst Nationaal, Brussels, Belgium, 14th October 1996. (Photo by Gie Knaeps/Getty Images)
Nas throws it back to the making of his masterpiece, "Illmatic."

Nas has been on a creative high recently. The rapper's collaborations with Hit-Boy has reinvigorated his career and proved that he's more lyrical than ever. His relevancy is such that he doesn't have to rely on his old catalog to attract listeners. Unless, of course, the album in question is Illmatic. The 1994 classic will always be Nas' high-water mark, and the rapper chose to reflect on the making of the album ahead of its 30th (!) anniversary.

Nas hopped on Instagram to post throwback photos of the men who helped shape his project. The photos are grainy, which the rapper alludes to in the beginning of his caption, but the faces are so iconic that they're recognizable anyway. Nas can be seen standing alongside New York legends like Pete Rock, DJ Premier, Large Professor, LES and Q-Tip. The second photo sees Nas post up next to his friend and Illmatic's lone feature, AZ. "Grainy pictures for grainy times," the Queens emcee wrote.

Nas Is Thankful To Be Part Of "Music History"

"I had a dream I could get my favorite producers to produce on my debut album," Nas continued in the caption. "I knew exactly what I wanted and how it should be. On April 19 we smashed s**t. Even tho the album leaked months before the release date we still are apart of music history." The "One Love" rapper then proceeded to shout out each of the men pictured. "Thank you to everyone involved," he added. "Friday is the albums 30th. 2 The Listeners- ONE LOVE."

Nas has had to contend with every subsequent release of his being compared to Illmatic, but the rapper actually feels like the album has transcended his catalog. He views it as a separate entity in some ways, as he told Clash in 2014. “It’s interesting because that’s bigger than me," he asserted. "It’s something that I look at and it trips me out a little bit. I just think about it and, with certain artists that I like, I like some of their works more than the others and I only want to hear certain albums. It’s just the way things are." Regardless of Nas' sense of authorship, Illmatic remains his magnum opus.


About The Author
Danilo is a writer based out of San Diego. He graduated from the Art Institute of Tucson with a B.A. in digital media, and has since forged a career as a pop culture journalist. He covered hip-hop for, Rhyme Junkies and PopMatters prior to joining Danilo's top five is constantly changing, but Biggie and Slug from Atmosphere remain permanent fixtures. His favorite rap album of all time is "Late Registration" by Kanye West, and that stays the same.