"Illmatic" By Nas Turns 30: Revisiting One Of The Greatest Hip-Hop Songs Ever, "N.Y. State Of Mind"

BYZachary Horvath1093 Views
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30 years later and this picture of urban life in 1990s New York, still holds up today.

Nas is one of the names that pops into people's heads when they are conjuring up their top five rappers of all time. Without a doubt, his sharp pen, incredible storytelling, and ear for production all help make him of one of the treasures of the genre. Today marks the start of his legendary 30-year career, when he dropped almost undoubtedly the greatest debut hip-hop LP, Illmatic. We wanted to go back in time and revisit "N.Y. State of Mind," which is widely viewed at Nas at his peak.

Famously produced by another fellow icon, DJ Premier, it is viewed as one of the most recognizable beats in rap. The incredible East Coast, boom bap production synchronizes perfectly with the keys used. Nas spoke on the creation of "N.Y. State of Mind" about eight years ago and what it meant to him. "The music just spoke to the people that needed to know what was in my head and what it was like in the minds of everybody in New York at that time—that’s what I thought."

Relisten To "N.Y. State Of Mind" By Nas

Besides the song being a face of the over 50-year old genre, it was just an incredible feat period. He was just 20 years old and the first verse was something that just came naturally to him. In an interview with XXL, according to Genius, DJ Premier recalled one of the craziest moments he ever experienced in a recording booth. According to him, when Nas says, "I don't know how to start this s***," that was actually true. But Preem just told him to go in after his count. "He did the whole first verse in one take, and I remember when he finished the first verse, he stopped and said, ‘Does that sound cool?’ And we were all like, ‘Oh my God!’ It was like, I don’t even care what else you write," Premier said.

What are your thoughts on "N.Y. State of Mind" by Nas? Is the greatest rap song in the history of the genre? Or is it the best New York rap track ever? Do you view Illmatic as the cream of the crop when it comes to debut albums? Where does it rank all time in hip-hop? We would like to hear what you have to say, so be sure to leave your takes in the comments section. Additionally, always keep it locked in with HNHH for all of the latest news surrounding Nas. Finally, stay with us for everything else going on around the music world.

Quotable Lyrics:

Time to start the revolution, catch a body, head for Houston
Once they caught us off-guard, the MAC-10 was in the grass, and
I ran like a cheetah, with thoughts of an assassin
Picked the MAC up, told brothers "Back up!" — the MAC spit
Lead was hittin' n****s, one ran, I made him back-flip
Heard a few chicks scream, my arm shook, couldn't look

About The Author
Zachary Horvath is the Music Freelance News Writer for HNHH. He was brought on to the staff in August 2023. The passion for music and sports has always been there and being able to share it through writing is extremely fulfilling for him. Zach looks to bring the very best content for the site.