Nas had first met fellow Queens hip-hop artist Large Professor who immediatly recognized the incredible talent and efortless flow this young man embodied. Large Pro went on a mission to get Nas a record deal, not only by letting him appear on Pro's group's '91 album on thé classic posse cut "Live From the BBQ", but also produced Nas two track demo the emcee used to shop around to various executives and A&Rs. Their hard work eventually payed off as Faith Newman (pictured above) and M.C. Serch went nuts over the tape and immediatly signed the lyrical monster from QB to Columbia Records to start recording his debut album.
Large Professor produced the street anthem "Halftime" which appeared on the MC Serch produced "Zebrahead" in 1992. Nas vicious delivery over Extra-P's harhitting drum pattern, scorching bass line and agressive turntable work was one of the few songs that snatched hip-hop right back to its original home of New York City. Although "Illmatic" wouldn't find its way to stores until the summer of '94, "Halftime" was such a timeless joint that it still appeared on the final product. Another equally "old" collaboration with The Professor was "One Time 4 Your Mind". This is a very interesting joint as writers is often heard things like "if Illmatic had an akilles heel it would be "One Time", although it doesn't". Statements like this are pure bullshit as "One Time 4 Your Mind" adds to the exact perfection that Nas debut is just as much as "Life's A Bitch", "It Ain't Hard to Tell" and all the other masterpieces found on the LP.
"One Time..." is an extremely essential part to "Illmatic" and further cemented the important relationship shared between rapper Nas and his first producer. It's almost like an intermission, a real chill-out joint that's clearly a old-school tribute/throwback from both the vocal and musical perspective. They both keep it simple with Large sample and looping jazz(fusioon artist Jim Gordon & His Jazz Pop Band's '69 hit "Walter L" to create a simple but effective hip-hop banger very hard for anyone with his heart in this not snapping neck to. Nasir treats the addictive piano note, rolling bassline melody and boom bap drums as the perfect music to show his immaculate skill, old school style. Rather than weaving an intricate story or doing any soul searching he basically turns it to a glorified freestyle session, kicking fly shit about a regular day in Nasir Jones life at the time without much happening besides waking up, lighting one up, kicking back to some dope new music and reminiscing about past times. Basically something we all can relate to, right.
Nas' classic debut wouldn't have been the same without the perfection that is "One Time 4 Your Mind", it really gives further insight into the artists persona and for a golden era head to not feel the music is on par with other classics of that era is totally beyond me. "Illmatic" is the perfect hip-hop album and everything from "The Genesis" to "It Ain't Hard to Tell" are equally important parts of the whole; I wouldn't change one beat, one title, one line, the cover, or anything about that LP but I do wonder if we ever will se another as immaculate state of hip-hop perfection again. I doubt it considering how Nas and the all-star cast of producers managed to create something that both encapsuled the time era it was created in ar the sajme time as it's still timeless and will continue to inspire generations. Peep Nas, Large Pro and Wiz's breakdown of this particular track from the XXL Article The Making of Illmatic.
Large Professor: "We got this kinda attitude. It wasn't like, "Yo, the budget," and all that type of shit. It was cool, 'cause it was a little quick rhyme that he had. Some shortie-to-the-store shit, like that. Not like he was tryin' to go too hard or lyrical. It was just like, "Yo, I'm a regular dude. I'll kick some cool, around-the-way, corner shit for you."
Nas: "Honestly, that song was just like, "Hey, we chilling". That song, I didn't give a fuck - it was just go in there and have fun. I wanted Wiz's voice on that. Out of everybody around, I thought that he had a voice that can be on a record and come off. I always wanted him to rhyme and shit, and that was my way of pushing him into that."
Grand Wizard: "At the time, we were just listening to the beat, and Nas was like, "Come in [the booth] with me and help me with the hook." So I get on the mic and say, "One Time for Ya Mind, One Time..." And Nas comes in with, "Yeah, whatever..." He just knew how to bounce off of me."