Written by Jessica Golich
The street-wise and poetically savvy East Coast hip-hop guru, Nas, has lyrically ruled the world of hip-hop since he first came out of the woodwork with guns blazing on a guest collaboration with Main Source on the 1991 track, “Live at the Barbecue”….imagine that. The witty and highly skilled narrator has spun a web of internal and external success both on the mic and in the troubled minds of young children with purposeful dreams of making it out of the projects and converting a slice of hood life into hip-hop divinity.
The birth of an ink-slingin’ king potently came to life before a multicultural audiences’ eyes the moment Nasir Jones first studio album, ‘Illmatic’, lit a fiery blaze that will burn eternally in the hyper-competitive world of hip-hop. Illmatic’s vividly dramatic message demonstrates relatability on an extremely subtle level and paints a picture of the mindful awareness cultivated within a young man slangin’ syllables, nouns and verbs on the heavy-hittin’ blocks of the Bronx.
The buoyant wordplay flowing through the cassette banger kept a candid story of a young man from the Queensbridge projects life experiences flowing with a hypnotizing mix of underground old-school and modern-day Edgar Allan Poe dynamite.
From the prologue, “The Genesis” to the closing masterpiece, “It Ain’t Hard To Tell”, there is a fusion of mesmerizing, natural messages that exhibit deeply personal reflection and the innovational thoughts swimming in the scintillating mind of the cunningly edgy yet simply sophisticated hip-hop legend.
The Queens emcee has paved the way for many cats today with eight consecutive platinum and multi-platinum albums and over 25 million records sold worldwide. The street poet has practically written the hood bible, changed elements of hip-hop culture and expanded the vocabularies of street dwellers with his critical perspective and illustrious expressions of fierce individualism and raw emotion coursing through his veins. The timeless voice of East Coast hip-hop has pushed the envelope and evolved tremendously over 23 years of bewitching the hip-hop world with pure creative artistry. Despite the clever, undisputed ringmaster wearing a velvet bow-tie with a bulletproof tux having a jumble of everlasting classics under his belt, Nas has shockingly yet to have been awarded one of the highest badge of honors a musician can receive; a Grammy.
Although the culturally significant and downright realest lyrical magic sweeping through 10 Nasir Jones studios albums and oodles of guest collaborations have surely been slept-on and passed over by The Academy’s voting members, the rhapsodic bliss has bursted through the impassioned hearts of harrowed hoodlums, where Nas openly and humbly credits his staggering success. Life is what you make it, and the shrewdly constructed, mind-gripping and politically mighty immersion within Nas’ discography is a must for any and every Hip-Hop head intrigued by blood, sweat and tears charismatically shed with grace, grit and a touch of class; I promise you that it’ll teach you almighty lessons of how the strong stand.