Illmatic, for me, is quite a shit record


It Was Written…though. solid 9/10.

The third record’s pretty good.

Assuming my ears work, what am i missing?


That reminds me I was going to start a music hot takes thread


Welcome to the boards.


i think you tried this one out on the old boards.

anyway, Take It In the Blood is a top ten nas track and It Was Written is indeed a great album.


I’m consistant, sure.

Don’t take this as a sleight on you a a grown man…just tell me why it’s a better record than It Was Written.

(As a wider point, is it not a positive thing that people encourage discourse and offer alternative opinion rather than toeing the generic party line?).


did i say otherwise?


i think it’s fairly close tbf. I dont understand why you would say illmatic is ‘quite shite’ other than to get a rise? i get preferring one to the other but they’re not far off from each other. why do you hate it?

Illmatic is a little more concise, has nine perfectly produced tracks; Premier, Large Pro, Q tip, Pete Rock. IWW is well produced but slipped a little in comparison. too much trackmasterz maybe? who were great on iww but just more sheen and less grit.


One for the money
Two for pussy and foreign cars
Three for Alize niggas deceased or behind bars
I rap divine Gods check the prognosis, is it real or showbiz?
My window faces shootouts, drug overdoses
Live amongst no roses, only the drama, for real
A nickel-plate is my fate, my medicine is the ganja
Here’s my basis, my razor embraces, many faces
Your telephone blowing, black stitches or fat shoelaces
Peoples are petrol, dramatic automatic four-four I let blow
and back down po-po when I’m vexed so
my pen taps the paper then my brain’s blank
I see dark streets, hustling brothers who keep the same rank
Pumping for something, some uprise, plus some fail
Judges hanging niggas, uncorrect bails, for direct sales
My intellect prevails from a hanging cross with nails
I reinforce the frail, with lyrics that’s real
Word to Christ, a disciple of streets, trifle on beats
I decipher prophecies through a mic and say peace.
I hung around the older crews while they sling smack to dingbats
They spoke of Fat Cat, that nigga’s name made bell rings, black
Some fiends scream, about Supreme Team, a Jamaica Queens thing
Uptown was Alpo, son, heard he was kingpin, yo
Fuck “rap is real”, watch the herbs stand still
Never talking to snakes 'cause the words of man kill
True in the game, as long as blood is blue in my veins
I pour my Heineken brew to my deceased crew on memory lane


Just untouchable if we’re honest



I think Nas really takes joy in his talent on this album, and that always comes across quite warmly to me. He was so young yet such a gifted observer. The whole record has a sort of calm urgency about it.


The songs completely pass me by bar about three - The World is Yours, Memory Lane, It Aint Hard to Tell, maybe at a push Represent. I guess that’s not a bad return, ‘shit’ was going a bit far, but it just doesn’t feel like an artist’s definitive record to me, in the same way that, idk, Sgt Pepper doesn’t, or OK Computer, or To Pimp a Butterfly, or Trout Mask Replica.

I watched the documentary last night, it’s a great story, he was, for a time, a great, fresh artist…but it sounds of its time (which some people might like), the production, i’d argue, hasn’t aged well, whereas IWW, sounds like it was made last week, he seems in full stride, i dunno, it’s instant with me. Perhaps it’s overproduced. Perhaps i just prefer it because it was the first record of his i heard. Perhaps we just get a bit too obsessed with artists earlier work sometimes.


it does sound of its time, but more so of its place. there are few albums as evocative of their setting, it just absolutely transports you to queensbridge right there with him. big fan of the brevity of it too, just 40ish mins of one of the all time greats, at the top of his game, going in over some of the best production ever.


I think it’s the way it captures time and place so well. It’s like albums like Channel Orange, Gracelands, Suburbs or VU & Nico for me in that it creates this really vivid, immersive picture of its environment. They’re all self contained worlds.

They’re all also albums that work as a whole and less so if you start pulling out individual songs.

Pitchfork rightfully gets a lot of crtiticism, but I always liked their review of the Illmatic reissue:

And how the opening couple of paragraphs set the scene:

You hear the arthritic rumble of the train. The 100-ton iron horse clacking at 55 miles per hour through the tunnel to nowhere. Stainless steel cars bombed with balloon letters in bubble gum paint. The F Line, pre-Giuliani, packed with rats and villains, foreigners and flummoxed out-of-towners, beggars, bandits, and sweating working stiffs. Third rails everywhere. It stops at 21st street. Queensbridge exit.

The doors crumple open and the passengers vanish up half-lit stairwells into the Bridge. There is no Illmatic without the Bridge. Illmatic is the bridge. Queensbridge Houses, the largest projects in America, brick buildings dun as dead leaves, a six-block maze clotted with 7,000-plus trying to survive. The pissy elevators only stop on every other floor. The neighbors are the rotting East River and the “Big Alice” power plant, its smokestacks hacking up black clouds.


What time and place does The Suburbs capture, just out of interest? I see your point, generally and about some of those other records, but struggling a bit with that one…


Milton Keynes, 80s


I think it’s less specific for me that one (and I’m guessing deliberately) but it just seems to capture a picture of Anytown suburban America so well.

I think about the suburban middle class areas of US tv series and films I’ve seen - rows of identikit houses, manicured lawns, picket fences etc - and the frustrations that lack of identity and definition between places could foster growing up there. It’s safe and secure, but stagnant too.


Illmatic had a beat from everyones favourite NY producers of the time, It Was Written was mostly Trackmasters. I don’t think they were a particularly good fit for him and I remember being massively disappointed by the album. I don’t think even Nas thinks IWW was better than Illmatic.


People do harp on about Illmatic though and you sometimes think “give it a rest”, but it’s just so fucking good. Has never really left my regular rotation since 1994 which is pretty crazy.


context changes a lot of things.

sounds great to me but def of it’s time. it’s the blueprint for 90s east coast boom bap.

i like both but again this was (as purists will point out) the beginning of his decline, each album was less and less raw. I still like something from every album he’s put out tho.

This is very true and fitting for dozens of artists i’ve gotten into over the years. I think it’s healthy and worthwhile to criticize the canon, especially the untouchable sacred cows. Usually it just resorts to inflammatory jabs with no real backing so the convo goes nowhere. But when there are fair counterpoints on the table, it can bring out some solid discussion.