Twenty years ago today, a 20 year-old kid from the Queensbridge projects released what now stands as one of the most important albums in Hip-Hop history. An instant classic, Illmatic would be studied and celebrated over the next two decades, held aloft as the standard for everything Rap music was and had the potential to be. It’s one of the most flawless bodies of work ever recorded, in any genre, and it is widely recognized as the defining work of an entire era of Rap. The impact of this 10 track masterpiece is almost immeasurable, yet you can still hear it bleeding through in the bars of artists the world over to this very day.
And so we wanted to pay tribute to this remarkable record in a manner befitting a piece of art that has meant so much to all of us and to so many others for so long. We reached out to the new generation of New York MCs and asked them to join us in paying homage to Nas and his magnum opus over the same timeless tracks that underscored his historic bars back in 1994 (plus a few of the remixes). Needless to say, if you were born or raised in the boroughs, Nas’ music has touched you in one way or another, and an amazingly talented array of artists stepped up to honor Esco.
Featuring contributions from Al-Doe, Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire, Troy Ave, Bodega Bamz, YC The Cynic, Denzil Porter, Smoke DZA, Doley Bernays, Timeless Truth, Euro League, Pete from Bitches Is Crazy, The Incomparable Shakespeare and SHIRT, this project is as much a showcase of the homegrown talent that has been reinvigorating the NY Rap scene over the last couple of years as it is a thank you letter to Nasir Jones. And really, what higher praise is there than that which comes from a generation of artists that cite you as a direct influence?
Previously: 20 Classic Nas Mixtape Cuts