EPK (Electronic Press Kit) for Nas' Illmatic album (1994)
As we head into the second week of 2014 it just dawned on me that 1994 is now a full twenty years ago which means that it is now officially the 20 year anniversary of when Nas
unleashed his landmark debut full-length LP Illmatic
- the groundbreaking album that would change the face of hip-hop (especially East Coast) for some time to come.
What is especially impressive is that Nas was only 20 years of age when this record, packed with references to the Queensbridge projects in which he grew up, was released and was only 19 when he recorded the album - even younger if you include "Halftime" which was recorded and released two years earlier for the Zebrahead
soundtrack in 1992 when he was still known as Nasty Nas
. (Note that the "Halftime" 12" was reissued
by Columbia Records
for last year's Record Store Day and that Illmatic was reissued
, with a bonus CD, for its 10 year anniversary).
may not have been the biggest selling rap album of the 90's it was perhaps the most
universally critically acclaimed record with the Source
magazine (back when it was still revered as 'the bible of hip-hop') bestowing its prestigious, highest rating of five mics. But beyond critical or commercial acclaim Illmatic
as a recorded work stands truly stands the test of time - hence why so many artists have since paid homage to it (EG: Elzhi's 2011 release Elmatic
) and why the album is held up as the blueprint for a truly classic hip-hop release (But is this the new Illmatic?
is a common question posed when an artist drops a quality release). Not only is Illmatic
the Queensbridge, NY emcee's own finest work but it also considered by most tastemakers as one of the quintessential 1990's hip hop releases. When it was released in April 1994 it was unlike anything else up to that point in time. Furthermore it was instrumental in shaping the New York hip-hop sound from that point forward.