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5.0 out of 5 stars
Illmatic - The Benchmark for Hip Hop, 24 Feb. 2005
When Nas, also known as Nasir Jones released Illmatic in 1994, nobody was prepared for the lyricall prodigy he brought to the table. Way ahead of his time, Nas was varial, flexible, modern and seething with cynical youth. With Illmatic and instant it's classics such as "New York State of Mind" and "The World is Yours", Nas successfully set the benchmark for future hip hop, and one that has not been surpassed at present. Nas lays down tracks about his burgoening life, and dark past in timeless spells such as "One Time For Your Mind" and "Life's A Bitch", wherein AZ almost steals the show with his equally astounding style. "The World is Yours" proves to be an exceptionally performed, Scarface-inspired track, with lyrics so appropriate and beats so deft that Jay-Z was able to launch a career off sampling that one song. The beats are solidly composed by definite pillars of the production industry, some of which are DJ Premier from Gangstarr, Large Professor and Q-Tip from a Tribe Called Quest. The jazzy, Harlem-tune of "Halftime" is uplifting and nihilistic at the same time... a feat chievable only by Nas; 'I got more kicks than a baby in a mother's stomach', the puns do not end, proving Nas to be one of the wittiest MC's to ever grace vinyl. The majestic Illmatic ends with the proper "It Aint Hard To Tell". With the faint hint of a rapid violin in the background, this fast-paced song is where Nas is able to showcase his gift at lyricism. This song is a case study in speedy wordplay. The right way to end the night. Illmatic, Nas' other albums notwithstanding, stands alone in a world that is 99% superficial and 1% content.