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Nas’ Illmatic: The Videos

Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

Tomorrow is the official 20th anniversary of Nas’ five mic classic debut album Illmatic. For the past week or so, there’s been a flurry of Illmatic retrospectives dropping, special live performances of the album, and even a remastered release of the LP. Here at NahRight, we admit that we can’t get enough of the NAStalgia. So to add to it, we put together a collection of Nas’ official video releases from his debut, and a couple bonus clips from the era too, for our latest Video Vault. Always nice to have everything in one place, right? Enjoy the visual trip down memory lane.

1. “Halftime”

Nas’ Large Professor-produced debut single “Halftime” was actually released in 1992 as part of the Zebrahead soundtrack before finding another permanent home on Illmatic. The video is grainy and rough, with clips of Nas on a Queensbridge roof with his crew. Check for the fly air-brushed Ill Will jacket towards the end, too. RIP.

2. “It Ain’t Hard to Tell”

Large Pro had the honors of also producing the second Nas single off Illmatic, and once again, Nas came through with some street visuals to represent his sound. Dipped in skully caps of all flavors, and the army jacket that gets a name drop in his rap (perfect for sneaking an “Uzi on the Island”), Nas stunts on his cell phone for the camera while he displays his superior rhyme styles. There are some dope live clips mixed in of him rocking on stage as well.

3. “The World is Yours”

Nas got his Scarface on for “The World is Yours” video, as he kicked his verses while soaking in a jacuzzi tub smoking a cigar. It’s an ill black-and-white clip, with added production value and screen effects, one in particular that depicts Nas rapping through the TV screen for shorty watching intensely at home. Look for Pete Rock making his guest appearance on the keys, too.

4. “The World is Yours (Remix)”

You know the remix is correct when it gets its own video. Yes, Q-Tip’s version of “The World is Yours,” which we featured on our Top 20 Rap Remixes of 1994 list, received a well-deserved fresh set of summery visuals. Nas is seen talking on the celly in his Lexus and cruising with a blunt in his bandana, while scenes of street-side robberies and Three-card Monte games are edited in. It’s a celebration too, as the champagne glasses are raised to toast Nas’ success. The world was definitely his at this point.

5. “One Love”

The most story-driven song on Illmatic, “One Love,” was of course produced by Q-Tip also. And it got its own video too, which paints the picture of Nas writing to his boy locked up in prison to match the lyrics on the track. We even get a glimpse of Nas looking out from his infamous project window as he watches his boy get knocked by the jakes in the beginning, and a shot of him and “Shorty Doo Wop” from the third verse politicking about the hardships of young street life on a Queensbridge park bench. This was the projects that Nas was raised in, and the “One Love” video gave us a 360 degree glimpse of life in his hood.

6. Illmatic Press Kit

Before all the 20th anniversary documentaries existed, there was the Illmatic press kit, which featured interviews with Nas’ Dream Team production staff for the album, and some back history on him as an artist. Q-Tip says, “I just wanted to hit him with some old nasty, like an ill beat…some old spooky, like, mystic type thing.” A young Queensbridge resident adds, “‘One Love’ is butter.” There’s also footage of Nas talking about his debut and hanging out in Queensbridge, and some other short but great interviews with QB residents bigging up their rising star. Plus in-studio clips taken the same day they shot this picture that appeared in The Source. Classic material for the archives right here.

7. Video Music Box Interview

Dubbed by the YouTube uploader as Nas’ “1st ever interview,” this clip from Video Music Box shows a young Nas speaking from backstage at The Fever on the upcoming release of Illmatic, and shouting out his whole crew in the building, including his brother Jungle. And when asked who he wants to work with? He replies, “Yeah, I wanna work with The Beatles.” Then he smiles, “I’m buggin’.” Yo Paul McCartney, what’s good with the collabo, dun?!

Major props on Illmatic’s 20th anniversary, Nas! You’ve come along way. One love.

Related: Mixtape Memories: 20 Classic Nas Mixtape Cuts | The Top 20 Rap Remixes of 1994Black Moon’s Enta da Stage: The Videos

Previously: Video Vault: 7 Classic Yo! MTV Raps “Live Fridays” PerformancesVideo Vault: 14 Artists Promote Their 1994 Album Releases on Yo! MTV Raps | Video Vault: 10 Hip-Hop Artists Go Shopping at Amoeba MusicVideo Vault: 5 Underappreciated ’90s Posse Cut Videos | Video Vault: 5 Classic Snoop Dogg Performances of Doggystyle Songs | Video Vault: 10 Classic In Living Color Performances | Video Vault: 10 Classic Showtime at the Apollo Performances | Video Vault: The Top 20 Rap Videos of 1993 | Video Vault: 5 Classic Wake Up Show Freestyles | Video Vault: 5 Pre-Reasonable Doubt Jay-Z Videos | Video Vault: 7 Classic Smack DVD Clips

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13 Responses to “Nas’ Illmatic: The Videos”

  1. ILLmatic nigga Says:


  2. King Yeezus Says:

    Almost a year later and Yeezus is a classic LP

  3. no shots, like stray dogs Says:

    Nah bruh.that man fell off.

  4. Dr. Bulldog Says:

    I don’t think Nas has ever made a great video

  5. IN_SITE Says:

    best to ever do it http://insite.bandcamp.com/

  6. TS-LTE Says:


  7. Not Pertinent Says:

    Love it or hate it, Illmatic is timeless music. “It Ain’t Hard To Tell” is still the perfect marriage of lyrics & music. That’s one of those songs that hits you like you’re hearing it for the first time everytime it comes on…

  8. No shots, like stray dogs Says:

    “Some fiends scream about supreme team a jamaica queens thing, uptown was alpo yo, heard he was kingpin”

  9. No shots, like stray dogs Says:

    “Now I’m amped up they locked the champ up, even my brain in handcuffs’

  10. No shots, like stray dogs Says:

    Greatest of all time !!!!!!

  11. Slow Dance Says:

    dooooope. pumped to see his documentary

  12. TS-LTE Says:

    Dr. Bulldog
    3 days, 19 hrs ago
    I don’t think Nas has ever made a great video


    Hate Me Now (how controversial it was)
    One Mic (took it to the motherland)

    Be A Nigga Too (my favorite)

  13. TS-LTE Says:

    “They put a noose on Pac.
    Now Im defending Vic
    And free that nigga Tip”

    – opening of Be A Nigga Too

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