April 19, 2020

Nas "Illmatic" (26th Anniversary + Billboard 4/2/94)

"The BUZZ on Nas, the newest rapper on Columbia's roster, is big and growing bigger.... "Illmatic" is the name of Nas' debut album, which is starting to ripple through Planet Rap. It's a colorful blend of events and experiences ("life, death, triumph, woe") as seen through his eyes. Its honesty and passion are palpable through and through. The title, says Nas, "is the sound of the type o' shit I'm on." Nas' introduction to the world came via "Live At The BBQ," an acknowledged classic from Main Source's 1990 album "Breaking Atoms." He rhymed chorus-line style along Akinyele, Large Professor, and Joe Fatal. Next, in 1992, he dropped "Halftime," which was featured on the Zebrahead motion picture soundtrack. The same year, Nas recorded several songs with Large Professor, including "It Ain't Hard To Tell," the first single from "Illmatic," wherein he declares his status as da muhfuggin' man. He got signed to Columbia based on the strength of a demo. To complete the album, Nas collaborated with other production scientists. They are Pete Rock, L.E.S., DJ Premier, and Q-Tip." As they say, the rest is history! Illmatic is the single greatest solo album in Hip-Hop history, and it deserves all the praise it gets - especially on it's (26th) Anniversary. More below in the article from Havelock Nelson in Billboard (April 2, 1994), specifically about their fax campaigns, securing press and the original Nas t-shirts that were designed to attract the attention of tastemakers. Happy 26th!

In addition to references to Illmatic, the story below about the Bloody Week on Staten Island makes mention of U-God's son being shot in a crossfire, Guy Routte's brother being shot, and an associate of Shyheim and the Wu-Tang being shot and killed. Guy was Shyheim's manager at the time and has been managing Pharoahe Monch for many years - he's also one of the nicest guys in the whole industry. Shyheim's "AKA The Rugged Child" was released on this day in 1994 as well, and "Speaking of homicides as they relate to his hometown, Shyheim rhymes in "On And On," his debut single, "This happens everyday around my way, so I pray that I could live another day." Amen."