This title explores a key hip hop album marking the cross over point where the streets and the charts collided. Contradiction the simultaneous existence of two competing realities and larger than life persona are at the core of “Nas’ Illmatic”. Yet Nas’ identity – as an inner-city youth, a child of hip hop and a Black American – predicts those philosophical quandaries as much as it does its brazen ambition.
The artistic impact of Illmatic was massive. The record finds its place in the greatest transition in hip hop up to that point. Along with the Wu Tang Clan’s debut from the previous year, Illmatic put New York back on the map after a long period of West coast, G-funk dominance.
Nas also mapped out the laid-back lyrical style that would usher in the modern era of hip hop. “33 1/3” is a series of short books about a wide variety of albums, by artists ranging from James Brown to the Beastie Boys. Launched in September 2003, the series now contains over 50 titles and is acclaimed and loved by fans, musicians and scholars alike.
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