on 9 April 2005
What can be said about Illmatic that hasn't been said before, probably not a lot but this my personal take on what I consider to be the best album ever made. From the beginning when a new york train drives loudly past a room where Nas' verse from the breakout song Live At the Barbeque with Main Source plays at half volume before a gang disussion gets underway. A non nyc native realises they are about to be taken to world not only wholly unbeknown to them but also to world that modern mainstream Hip-Hop itself has long since forgotton. Nas spits verses on the 9 classic tracks produced by Q-Tip, DJ Premier, Pete Rock & Large Professor with the wisdom, delicacy and heartfelt experience of someone twice his age. Forget the bragadocio gangsta mentality of Curtis Jackson and his ilk, Nas deals with issues such as gang warfare, gun crime and drugs with a brutal honesty that portrays them not as glamourous acts but merely as parts of the colorful tapestry of his home in the Queensbridge Projects that take place everyday. What really impresses are Nas' multi-faceted rhyme patterns and his story telling ability both of which are yet to be beaten in any genre of music. For those who wish to return to a forgotten time buy this album and let Mr. Jones take you back through the greatest 40 mins of narrative your ears will ever hear, from stories of nyc stick-up kids and shoot outs in fron of tenements to the hopes and fears of generation x black males you will not be disappointed. One word Essential.
on 31 July 2005
Probably not, if you already have the original and you are wondering whether it is worth the extra money for the extra tracks I would say no. If you don't already have illmatic then you should definately buy this version instead because it is undoubtably one of the greatest albums ever. The remix's have good beats but it is almost impossible to improve the classic tracks and the two bonus tracks are ok but I wouldn't spend all this extra money on them, stick with the original unless you are a die-hard fan.
on 25 January 2003
About a year ago,I heard "got yoself a gun",and ended up getting stillmatic because it was so catchy.It turned out to be a wise choice-in my opinion nas is the best lyricist in hip hop,whatever you say about tupac or the rest,and he rarely makes a weak song.Stillmatic became my favourite album,and then after buying a couple more of his excellent albums,i decided to get this.Nas's albums always seemed to get compared to illmatic as extremely poor.I got it,and I was amazed!Even better than the other nas albums,and yes its true this is the best hip hop lp ever made!He flows quickly with wit and intelligence and shows his pure lyrical genius.The lyrics better the beats,which are doper than any ive heard on an album for a long time.Nas utilises great street knowledge for a 20 year old,and illmatic shines with flair and originality.This album changed the face of hip hop,and is well worth getting,whether your a fan of hip hop,nas,QB or just music in general.This is hip hop at its best.Buy it now,you won't regret it.
on 24 January 2004
When I first listened to this, I thought the beats were plain and tedious, and I was disappointed with the length (10 tracks, 39 min). But I knew it was meant to be a classic, so I gave it a few more listens. Now it is my favourite album of all time, and sits in my CD rack next to timeless classics like 36 chambers, liquid swords, cuban linx, the infamous, and ready to die. If you are a commercial fan and have no brain, you'll be disappointed because the lyrics are real and there is no image and acting, and he doesn't constantly rap about guns, hoes, cars, diamonds and material. He raps about life in the ghetto, and what he sees around him. If you say the beats are boring, wakeup and realise that good hip hop requires you to GET INTO IT. Don't dismiss an album just because it didn't appeal to you on your first listen. Most classics require repeated listens for you to fully appreciate and understand. Any real hip hop fan knows that good hip hop should be original and have thought provoking lyrics, unlike mainstream which is all the same. Nas' flow is perfect throughout and each lyric gives an extra detail of what life in the Queensbridge projects is like. The production is original, consistent and perfectly fits in well with Nas' flow and intelligent lyrics. Every track is a classic and no matter how hard I listen I can only find one minor flaw, and that is the repetitive chorus on One Time 4 Your Mind, but that is so easily ignored. The best tracks are hard to choose, but my favourites are N.Y. State Of Mind, The World Is Yours, Memory Lane, One Love, Represent and It Ain't Hard To Tell. Even the intro is dope. Is you don't like this on your first listen, trust me it'll grow on you the same way it did for me if you just sit back, feel the beat and enjoy Nas' flawless flow and intelligent street poetry. CLASSIC. Highly recommended for real hip hop fans who have brains.
on 19 August 2004
From start to finish this album epitomises all that is/was good in Hip Hop.
At the time (1994) Nas was touted as the next Rakim and on the evidence of his first long player stemming from his debut on Main Sources posse cut "Live at the BBQ", the plaudits were not far wrong.
With production from Heavy Weight players such as The Large Professor, Dj Premier, Pete Rock and Q-Tip from A Tribe Called quest the album tracks range from the Sublimely Hypnotic Pianos and Wordplay of "The World Is Yours" to the hard core head nodders of "Half Time" and "Represent" and finishing with the Beautiful Debut single "It aint hard to tell".
Nas takes your through a range of emotions and topics with his complex flow and smooth delivery to the back drop of the Projects in Queensbridge where he grew up.
Everyone should own this album - A bench mark for how Hip Hopshould be....
on 6 July 2005
In a word. Yes. This is a serious piece of music.
I have an emotional attachment to records such as 'It takes a nation of millions - PE', 'Criminal Minded - KRS' etc. When you listen to this record up against those, there really is no comparison.
Nas on this record is touching poetic genius. His flow is untouchable, the lyrics orignial, intelligent. The production is excellent.
Some people might consider this a Gangster record. Nas is simply telling it how he saw it growing up, as a young black kid in the QB projects. This record is a testament to that struggle, and should be acknowledged as such.
I cant quite get my head round the fact that Nas made this record when he was 20 years of age, incredible.
on 3 September 2003
I’m a relative newbie to the hiphop scene. I did use to buy albums in the mid 90s like Tha Dogfather by Snoop, Liquid Swords by Gza and the classic 36 Chambers by the Wu Tang Clan. But I never really understood those pieces, the lyrics and was more into the music.
Illmatic is probably the album which put these two things together and made the hip hop genre clearer to myself. I’m a music man, and can happily tell you when the melody changes key and when the drummer adds more shuffle in a track from memory, but ask me to recite the lyrics or even tell you what the song is about and I just can’t. But listening to Illmatic, hearing Nas rap about his struggle of being a kid afraid to rap but now he’s running shows (Halftime). With even some jazzy influences on Life’s a Bitch, to the full bassline of Halftime and the Michael Jackson subtle sampling of It ain’t Hard to Tell, Nas has a lot to offer. He doesn’t go on too much about gun totting but he tells the truth “I use to wash chips now I load Glock clips”, but he’s got proper positive lyrics which he has coming on through the album. Some true to his life which are harrowing, but that’s the way hiphop should be. Sugar coated rap has it’s place, but when it comes down to the deepness and truth of it all, I feel Nas is one of the best. His follow up albums where excellent, though I still think Illmatic is the best of the pile.
on 10 June 2002
if there was a sixth star, I'd give that to this album too. I bought stillmatic a while back and after enjoying tracks like '2nd childhood' I moved onto illmatic, the more critically acclaimed debut album. what can I say, every track is genius. it sounded a bit old school to me at first, some of the loops seemed a bit tedious at the time, but with every listen it became more and more infectious. I honestly think nas is hip-hops only true poet, tupac may have stood for more but on ILLMATIC nas is so fluent and consistent, his force in modern hip hop is undeniable. Every track is of the highest order but after millions of listens my fave tracks are halftime, one love, represent and it aint hard to tell. I hope this review is helpful to those who have just discovered nas, cos you'll find his new stuff quite accessable but like most hip hop albums, a bit patchy. Illmatic is 39 minutes, 10 tracks and no fillers, it truly is an urban classic.
on 19 October 2015
The greatest hip hop album ever,by the greatest rapper ever.thats the best way to sum up this album,nas showed his lyrical genius on main sources breaking atoms album before this was released,and if u heard his verse on "live at the bbq",then u knew this album was gonna be special.if u like hip hop,u MUST own this album,it's the best,no other rapper has produced an album like this ever.genius.
I can only echo the comments of other reviewers and herald this as rap´s greatest record.
This is a miracle work, edgy intensive listening from the first beat from the very last. The works of Nas´s peers pale in comparison to one of the most intense records I´ve ever heard. And I´m not even a particular fan of this genre of music.
A lot of my mates love hip-hop but this is the only record that´s ever captivated me. I´d like to think that this is what hip-hop was meant to be about.
It´s a real reflection of a person´s life, for once all the lyrics mean something. "Life´s a bitch and then you die," what could be more straight up and honest than that? There are no lines about how many cars he owns how many women he´s had or many houses he has. It´s all a brave but aggressive assessment of life in New York´s hard up areas. Witness the pulsating,"halftime," a resume of his street experiences. I´ve never heard anything spoken with such skilled venom in any musical genre. And what a lyrical flow. His confidence is astounding. Great tracks are the jazzy,"the world is yours," and the strangely moving,"memory lane." I never though I´d say that I was moved by a rap record. Perhaps the only slightly weak track is,"it ain´t hard to tell," with a sample that Michael Jackson used in the background.
I only own about ten hip-hop records and this is one of them.
I know he´s gone on to make some shoddy records since this and will never make anything that stands shoulder to shoulder with this again. It doesn´t really matter.
In football terms this is George Best at seventeen, a wild talent with the whole world at his feet. Absolutely essential listening for NON hip-hop fans too.