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.
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.
Undoubtedly Illmatic reigns as one of the superior hip hop albums ever made. The first time I listened to this album I dismissed it for some reason still unknown to me. But a second listening and my love and appreciation for this album just imploded. Instantly from the rumblings of the train within 'The Genesis' Nasty Nas draws you into his world of hennessee, blunts and block shootings which compose his everyday life. Nas relates these events unceremoniously as the daily occurences they are to him, in contrast to the usual inflated brevado of most hip-hop artists. Nas does all this whilst maintaining an infectious upbeat perspective. He really delivers his narratives, whether its a lamentation on the harder aspects of life or a reflection on the state of group alliances (One Love). The soundscape of the album supports the linguisitics perfectly, with Pete Rock providing his signiature horns and scratches, and other well known hip hop producers such as Q-tip lending their input. This album is 10 years old but trancends to the extent of being timeless. For any hip-hop fan this album is an essential.
Often cited as one of the best hip-hop albums of the '90s, Illmatic is the undisputed classic upon which Nas' reputation rests. It helped spearhead the artistic renaissance of New York hip-hop in the post-Chronic era, leading a return to street aesthetics. Yet even if Illmatic marks the beginning of a shift away from Native Tongues-inspired alternative rap, it's strongly rooted in that sensibility. For one, Nas employs some of the most sophisticated jazz-rap producers around: Q-Tip, Pete Rock, DJ Premier, and Large Professor, who underpin their intricate loops with appropriately tough beats. But more importantly, Nas takes his place as one of hip-hop's greatest street poets - his rhymes are highly literate, his raps superbly fluid regardless of the size of his vocabulary. He's able to evoke the bleak reality of ghetto life without losing hope or forgetting the good times, which become all the more precious when any day could be your last. As a narrator, he doesn't get too caught up in the darker side of life - he's simply describing what he sees in the world around him, and trying to live it up while he can. He's thoughtful but ambitious, announcing on "N.Y. State of Mind" that "I never sleep, 'cause sleep is the cousin of death," and that he's "out for dead presidents to represent me" on "The World Is Yours." Elsewhere, he flexes his storytelling muscles on the classic cuts "Life's a Bitch" and "One Love," the latter a detailed report to a close friend in prison about how allegiances within their group have shifted. Hip-hop fans accustomed to 73-minute opuses sometimes complain about Illmatic's brevity, but even if it leaves you wanting more, it's also one of the few '90s rap albums with absolutely no wasted space. Illmatic is a great lyricist, in top form, meeting great production, and it remains a perennial favorite among serious hip-hop fans.
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.
There, i've started off my review with that statement. So why do I think Illmatic is worth that accolade. Well, I'd say it's the greatest for a number of reasons, one of them being the impact this album had on the rap world. Nas practically invented a new style of delivery, which influeneced every rapper going, and most rappers still use this style to this day.
My other reason is the lyrics. Nas is a true poet, and possibly the best lyricist in the game ever, maybe not in terms of wordplay like Rakim, but just the ability to tell a story in an articulate way is just astounding. Tracks like N.Y. State Of Mind and The World Is Yours depict what life is like growing up in New York as a working class individual, and considering Nas was only 20 at the time, it's like Bob Dylan writing Blowin' In The Wind, for the 90's.
The album is short for a rap album, containing only nine tracks and one skit. The phrase quality over quantity springs to mind immediately, because for me, seven of the tracks I'd rate as 5-star classics. Rap just doesn't get any better than this. Show any hater who thinks they know about rap, and slags it off, this masterpiece, and they'll be converted.
For me, this is the greatest rap album ever made, and is in my all time top 10 of all genres. This is as essential as Sgt. Pepper's, London Calling, or The Queen Is Dead.