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Illmatic

Nas

1994

Buy At Rough Trade
Illmatic
Album Summary

Illmatic is the debut studio album by American rapper Nas. It was released on April 19, 1994, by Columbia Records. After signing with the label with the help of MC Serch, Nas recorded the album in 1992 and 1993 at Chung King Studios, D&D Recording, Battery Studios, and Unique Recording Studios in New York City. The album's production was handled by DJ Premier, Large Professor, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, L.E.S., and Nas himself. Styled as a hardcore hip hop album, Illmatic features multi-syllabic internal rhymes and inner-city narratives based on Nas' experiences growing up in the Queensbridge Houses in Queens, New York City. The album debuted at number 12 on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 63,000 copies in its first week. However, its initial sales fell below expectations and its five singles failed to achieve significant chart success. Despite the album's low initial sales, Illmatic received rave reviews from most music critics, who praised its production and Nas' lyricism. On January 17, 1996, the album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, and on December 11, 2001, it earned a platinum certification after shipping 1,000,000 copies in the United States. As of February 6, 2019, the album had sold 2 million copies in the United States. Since its initial reception, Illmatic has been recognized by writers and music critics as a landmark album in East Coast hip hop. Its influence on subsequent hip hop artists has been attributed to the album's production and Nas' lyricism. It also contributed to the revival of the New York City rap scene, introducing a number of stylistic trends to the region. The album is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential hip hop albums of all time, appearing on numerous best album lists by critics and publications. Billboard wrote in 2015 that "Illmatic is widely seen as the best hip-hop album ever". In 2020, the album was ranked by Rolling Stone at number 44 on its list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and in 2021, it was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Wikipedia

Rating

3.63

Votes

12536
Genres
Hip Hop

Reviews

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Fri Jun 11 2021
5

An absolute classic If hip-hop is supposed to be a window into the streets, ILLMATIC sounds, feels, and even fucking SMELLS like NYC in the '90s. When the war against the Disney-fication of NY was still being waged. By 1994 hip-hop was nationwide but Nas grabbed the mantle and brought it back home.

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Fri Mar 19 2021
4

So, I never really listened to Nas much before today. And I'm decently versed with most hiphop. Nas just never really appealed to me, though. Luckily for me, this project is forcing me to listen to things that don't appeal to me because Nas really IS an extremely talented rapper. His rhyme game is on point. The constantly interweaving internal rhyme schemes are out of control and really unexpected for an east-coast act in '94. According to the wiki article, it kinda started with him. Well, thanks Nas. Docked a star because, while the lyricism is off the chain, the content is ... repetitive and shallow (though still better than 99% of the east-coast rap of the time).

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Tue Oct 26 2021
5

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion about music, and this includes Illmatic. But I hold strongly that Nas's debut album, Illmatic, is the greatest and most important hip-hop album of all time. I cannot and will not dispute this. It goes hard. The sampling and the beats, Nas's flow on each song, the lyrics, the whole product. It's the combination of Boom Bap production with hardcore lyrics and flow. But the lyrics aren't just braggadocious or tough, they're a reflection of reality. Nas was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Queens, later dropping out of school and fully immersing himself in music. Nas, of course, is a natural wordsmith and lyricist. His cadence along with the depth of the bars elevates the art of rap to a multi-dimensional instrument. Each song stands on their own, you can tell that love and care went into the album as a whole. It is not a product of commerce, but of passion. Incredibly impactful and insanely catchy, Illmatic is an all-timer.

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Tue May 31 2022
3

I was really unaware of this album, or the history of it or Nas. Maybe he is too cerebral for mass consumption or radio play? His lyrics and rap rhythm are masterclass. But I found the album boring; it all ran together. No doubt he has different beats and samples but moving from song to song there wasn't one thing I could really point to in one that made it stand out from another one. The album works but once I walk away from it, there's nothing particularly memorable to bring me back.

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Tue Nov 30 2021
5

Album #1 Although I've rinsed this album from start to finish many times when it came up as the first one to listen to I was more than happy to dive in again. There is nothing I can say about how great this album is that hasn't already been said by droves of people far more qualified than me. If anyone who doesn't listen to much hip-hop asks me where they should start, this is the first album I point them to. Few albums receive the privilege of acting as a benchmark for their genre, and that is exactly what Illmatic does for hip-hop. This benchmark applied even more so in '94 when the genre was still young and proving itself. On Illmatic, everything comes together perfectly. From the soulful yet raw beats to the poignant yet infectiously addictive flows. They work in tandem to weave a story of a city frozen at a point in time and one young man's place within it. Favourite Track: Memory Lane (Sittin' in da Park) Least Favourite Track: N/A

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Thu Jan 06 2022
5

It's Illmatic by Nas. The best rap album of all time. Nas's lyrics are so slick that they slide off his tongue and spread like an oil spill in your brain, and the beats from the best craftsmen in the game (QTip, Large Professor, Premier, Pete Rock, L.E.S.) back him up so perfectly that they feel like a part of him, a natural extension of his craft. The album might honestly have the best three song run in hip-hop history. It should be illegal to follow New York State of Mind with Life's a Bitch and The World Is Yours, and the album never stops from there. Poignant slice of life tales on Memory Lane and One Love give the album an emotional through line and enhance the heady blend of ambition and apathy, power and weakness, joy and tragedy that defines the life of Nasty Nas. Represent is similarly incredible, with a hungry and passionate Nas giving it his all. It Ain't Hard to Tell, One Time 4 Your Mind, and Halftime are the only "subpar" tracks, meaning that they're 8/10 instead of perfect 10s and above like the rest of the record, but they all deliver standout moments and are probably the favorites of many listeners. This album is a touchstone of hip-hop, as Nas's measured, neverending flow and poignant, deadly lyrical skills either directly or indirectly inspired B.I.G., a future rival in Jay-Z, and countless other rappers. His lines have been reused countless times, and every contemporary hoping to make his or her bones in the game pays homage at some point to the album. It isn't rap's most important album, but it's the best there ever was.

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Fri Aug 19 2022
5

A stark and brutal portrait of Queensbridge in the early 1990s. Nas absolutely raps his ass off like he knows this could be his ticket out. He tells stories at such a rapid clip that it was hard for me to keep up at times and that he wrote this at 20 years old is simply astounding. The eerie beats enhance the mood of this album and parallel the lyrics well (the sample of "human nature" at the end of this album was fun to hear so close to Thriller though the context was completely different). I'm fairly confident there is no Kendrick Lamar without this album, as I lots that likely influenced Kendrick here.

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Wed May 05 2021
1

I ain't got time for this, know what I'm sayin'?

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Sat Jul 16 2022
5

I was only marginally familiar with Nas and never had taken the time to listen to a full album before this was suggested. Really well done all around. Half way through, it hit me how much of A Tribe Called Quest vibe I was feeling, so I was not shocked but deeply satisfied to see Q-tip had a big hand with the album. This will definitely be on regular rotation for me. “Midnight Maurauders” by A Tribe Called Quest kept the groove flowing after listening to Nas.

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Tue May 03 2022
2

Listened to on 5/2/22 2.5/5 Favorite song: halftime, it ain’t too hard to tell Things I like about this album: the naming of songs (genesis, halftime) but it’s truly just not my vibe although I liked it better than most hip hop/rap albums

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Thu Jan 14 2021
1

Too aggressive. I’m not a fan personally

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Wed Dec 30 2020
5

One of the best hip hop albums I've ever listened to, the beats are real crisp, the samples and scratches are mega cool, and the vocals are just amazing, this is a must for every hip hop fan out there

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Fri Jun 18 2021
5

Greatest Hip/Hop album of all time, not much else to say about it.

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Fri Oct 15 2021
5

Absolutely fantastic and an obvious classic. This album paints such vivid pictures of New York that it feels like a movie. Beats, rapping, flows, storytelling, everything is about as good as it can be. Insane record.

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Mon Jan 31 2022
5

One of the best albums ever made and the album that got me into hip-hop. even the opener skit is one of the best skits ever made. razer sharp flows, inventive rhyme schemes, dusty beats and some of the best storytelling in music history. Nas basically became a GOAT contender right out of the gate. Of course the all star cast of boom bap producers played a huge part in the seamless, timeless quality of this record too

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Thu Jul 14 2022
5

Straight out of the dungeons of rap. An exploration of rap poetry that defines a decade. Superb sampling. Lyrical mastery. Raw realism. One of the greatest albums ever made.

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Thu Aug 04 2022
5

Best Song: N.Y. State of Mind. That low, droning melody that repeats throughout the song is so iconic, and Nas is on another level through the whole track. Worst Song: Life's a Bitch. It's not a terrible song, but maybe a bit overplayed in movies, and it has this spirit of nihilism that I feel very much is not fitting with the rest of the album. Overall: I mean, this is maybe as good as it gets in this genre of rap. Great flow, great features. There's a reason it's considered such a classic. Sure, there are a few slurs that haven't aged well, but I don't think that's enough to sink what is otherwise such a thoughtful and iconic album.

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Tue Aug 23 2022
5

Illmatic is a contender for the greatest rap album of all time, the greatest debut album of all time, and overall, just one of the greatest albums of all time. Nas has one of the greatest flows in the game and his complex structure featuring internal rhymes make this album a rhythmic treat for the ears. His lyrics are thoughtful and he is an absolute wordsmith, playing with language in a way that only the very best writers can. His beats are lush jazz based east coast beats that represent the very best of New York hip hop. I find myself favoring east coast rap from the '90s and this is certainly amongst the cream of that crop.

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Mon Feb 05 2024
4

I’ve never been much of a rap fan and I am using this project as a way to expand my horizons. I remember this album coming out and not thinking much of it. I was in the military and the album was everywhere but I was on a college radio kick at the time. Listening to it now…omg. This album is incredible. To think I could have been listening for 30 years but I’m only understanding its genius in 2024. That’s on me, shame on me.

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Mon Jan 25 2021
1

Didn’t like it - too hardcore for me.

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Fri Jul 16 2021
1

Yo… yo… yo… yo… motherfunsters! Nah. Not for me.

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Mon Jan 25 2021
1

Only thirty seconds. I don't like this style

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Sat Feb 06 2021
1

If I never hear this again I will die happy.

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Tue Dec 07 2021
1

I don't like exactly this rap

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Sat Jan 01 2022
1

Why was this not considered gangster rap? I read it supposedly show the NYC rap scene as still relevant compared to the West Coast scene of "gangsta rap". But the lyrical content seems basically the same.

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Thu Jan 07 2021
5

Not really much to say about this classic slice of east coast hip hop except how ace it is. Top 5 hip hop off all time

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Thu Oct 01 2020
5

Wish I'd listened to it before now

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Mon Oct 05 2020
5

ok basically back on schedule now! been putting this album off for a while because tbh i was scared i wouldnt "get it" (hip hop is still not quite my genre of choice) but nah this bangs. mr nas raps way too fast for me to get everything hes saying but like the rapping is great and the beats are also really good so who cares? and when i can make out the lyrics theyre pretty great. lifes a bitch is basically perfect. not every beat hits it outta the park for me (one love) but its still fairly consistent just bc nas is really fucking good the entire time. dont get the love for the genesis though. feels like a bit of a superfluous intro. mayb i simply dont get it.

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Wed Sep 30 2020
5

1994. Key Songs: Life's a Bitch, N.Y State of Mind, Halftime, One Love

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Wed Sep 30 2020
5

Instant classic, from the day it was released. Not a bad track on here. Best hip-hop album of all-time? Best album of all-time?

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Mon Sep 28 2020
5

one of the most flawless albums of all time

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Wed Nov 11 2020
5

Fantastic album through and through, one of my all-time favorites.

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Wed Jan 13 2021
5

Nas was 19 when he wrote this album - the talent. This was the beginning of east coast rap as it is today. Thank you Nas! Side note, I saw him play most of this album at Gov Ball in 2013.

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Wed Jan 13 2021
5

heard many times - my personal number 1 rap album of all time.

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Fri Jan 15 2021
5

A true hip-hop classic. One of the top ten greatest rap albums ever conceived. .

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Tue Jun 01 2021
5

There's just something about this type of old-school rap that's so easy to listen to

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Wed Jan 27 2021
5

Album pilier du rap américain Excellente production Des flows incroyables Intemporel

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Tue Feb 16 2021
5

perfectly balanced and smooth. as good as rap gets. fav track: it ain’t hard to tell

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Wed Jan 13 2021
5

One of the best. Collabs are on point. I feel like this is the transition album between old school and new school.

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Sat Feb 13 2021
5

Straight fire. I see where a Nas has influenced a ton of rappers. Beats were great.

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Sat Jan 23 2021
5

Classic hip hop. Great album

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Fri Jan 15 2021
5

I see why this is a classic. The beats. The samples. Nas has a great flow and great word play.

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Wed Jan 13 2021
5

Probably a top 10 rap album all time. Nas is one of the great storytellers and wordsmiths of rap with a buttery smooth flow. Love this album.

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Wed Jan 27 2021
5

Honestly didn’t even listen to it for this.

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Sun May 02 2021
5

El mejor disco de hiphop de todos los tiempos, dicen. One Time 4 Your Mind

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Fri Jan 22 2021
5

Not usually a big rap listener, but I really enjoyed this album. Great beats and lyrics.

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Thu Apr 01 2021
5

its illmatic, one of the best rap albums ever

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Tue May 04 2021
5

One of the greatest albums of all time. One of my personal faves and overall flawless. Lots of nostalgia everytime I hear a song from this album. Lyricism is amazing!

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Mon Jun 28 2021
5

Simply one of the greatest albums ever, hip-hop or otherwise.

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Sun May 30 2021
5

Oh man, what an album! One of the best hip-hop records of all time! Even if you don’t like hip-hop this is worth a listen.

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Wed May 12 2021
5

"I rap for listeners, blunt heads, fly ladies and prisoners" Escuchar este disco es visualizarse en un auto, ventanas bajas cruzando el Bronx, literalmente donde nació el rap. No culpo en lo más mínimo a la gente que dice que Illmatic es el mejor disco de rap de la historia o el lugar donde comenzó la era dorada del género. Soul, funk, jazz. Este disco lo tiene (y samplea) todo. Cierra de principio a fin. Si bien fue producido en conjunto con un montón de productores es notoria la contribución de Q-Tip, proveyendo carácter y personalidad a la voz de Nassir. El flow y el sonido de este disco solo se compara con un grupo muy selecto de discos de la época/genero. Es rarísimo mirar atrás y decir que las letras de este disco son las más… ¿Educadas? Nas tiene esa capacidad de demostrar lo horrible de vivir en un ghetto y a su vez señalar la esperanza de salir, o de vivir en uno. Por supuesto que todo se vuelve full circle cuando lo comparás con discos que venían de la otra cosa como el amado The Cronicle de Dr. Dre. No hay notas adicionales, el disco lo dice todo y más. Si querés hacer un viaje por los gigantes del rap, Illmatic va a estar entre las 3 primeras paradas que quieras hacer.

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Mon May 31 2021
5

What a wonderful album. Possibly one of my favorite beats/samples in the last track. So many dissertations have been written about how great this album is. What else is there to say?

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Fri May 07 2021
5

Great album front to back. Pentacle of hip hop

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Sun Jul 04 2021
5

Terrible discazo, la produccion me encanto, tiene buenas liricas, esta excelentemente rapeado. 5/5

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Fri Aug 13 2021
5

damn this one slaps! NY State of mind is a stone cold classic, I really like the mixing and that flow! again, damn!

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Fri Aug 27 2021
5

Insane he pulled this off his debut, I mean the production alone Is stacked. The cover is literally one of the first images in my head when I hear “hip hop”

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Mon Sep 06 2021
5

Had this album saved from back in like 2016 when I thought it made me cool to like it, so nice to return to this with a much better sense of musical literacy. Infectious beats and hooks, rewards multiple close listens, and I bet the samples are fire. Easy 5 Already Saved: N.Y. State of Mind Saved After Listening: Life's a Bitch, The World Is Yours, Halftime*, Represent, It Ain't Hard to Tell

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Mon Sep 27 2021
5

Stonewall CLASSIC hip hop album. Legendary album.

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Mon Nov 01 2021
5

När jag i mellanstadiet ville bredda mina musikhorisonter och lyssna på något annat än Eminem, läste jag på internet om Nas' Illmatic, och hur den beskrevs som en "hip-hopbibel". Sedan dess har albumet följt mig. Jag återkommer alltid till det efter några månader, inte för att det påverkat eller betytt särskilt mycket för mig, utan för att jag vet att när jag slår på Illmatic har jag 40 minuter ren kvalité framför mig. Varje låt, varje beat, varje rad är så nära perfektion man kan komma i hip-hop. Detta trots att Nas i vad som kanske är tidernas bästa hip-hoplåt, N.Y. State of Mind, inför första versen lägger in en brasklapp: "I don't know how to start this shit, yo...". Albumet är perfekt rakt igenom, men extra bra är ovan nämnda N.Y. State of Mind (såklart), Life's a Bitch, One Love, och Represent. Straight out the fuckin' dungeons of rap! Bästa låt: N.Y. State of Mind.

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Wed Nov 03 2021
5

Straight classic in the rap genre. Biting, intense lyricism and amazing crisp production and beats.

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Fri Nov 05 2021
5

OK! I liked this the first time through. Liked it even more the second time through. Yep, the music is catchy, the rhymes are clever. All the talk of M-16s, M-10s, .9s, and the threat of death or prison makes me viscerally anxious, so I'm not sure if I'll listen to it regularly (and I acknowledge the privilege that I have that allows me to say and do that). But this is a great album and I can see why it's on this list.

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Wed Dec 15 2021
5

haven't listened to a lot of 90s rap, i enjoyed it

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Thu Dec 16 2021
5

This album brought back memories of when I used to hustle on the streets of Brooklyn. 1. I have never been to New York. 2. I have never hustled on the streets.

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Thu Jan 20 2022
5

The best rap album ever. No skits, no filler tracks, only 1 excellent guest verse. Every best sounds classic, Nas is on fire beginning to end. NY state of mind and the 2nd verse on memory lane especially are my favourites

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Sat Jan 22 2022
5

IM OUT FOR DEAD PRESIDENTS TO REPRESENT ME

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Sat Jan 29 2022
5

5.0 + Sleek and ferocious with smooth jazz samples and non-stop bars. Arguably the pinnacle of New York hip hop, and any hip hop ever.

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Mon Feb 14 2022
5

I’m not surprised how much I still like this.

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Wed Feb 23 2022
5

Probably on my list of 10 greatest hip hop albums ever. What can you say that hasn't been said. Classic, no skips.

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Tue Mar 22 2022
5

Best hip-hop album of all time.

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Tue Mar 22 2022
5

the greatest debut album in hip hop

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Sun Apr 03 2022
5

One of the greatest and most influential rap albums of all time. The classic beats and smooth flow from Nas make it a classic.

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Wed Apr 13 2022
5

Undisputed classic. No wasted space.

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