For me there is three absolute perfect hip-hop albums ever created and released, one being Raekwon's "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...", one being Eric B. & Rakim's "Follow The Leader" and the last one of course being the debut album of the young Nasir Jones - "Illmatic". The latter was released exactly 20 years ago on April 19 and it's definitely nothing strange about how well this record has stood the test of time. Still to this day, maybe only Rakim's vocal performance on "Follow The Leader" is as well-rounded, from the song writing, to the advanced lyrical genius, the clever metaphors and the immaculate flow all perfectly married to the music which in the case of "Illmatic" set a new standard that lives on to this day as Nas gathered a plethora of the hottest hip-hop producers around rather than having one beat head work on the entire album. DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Large Pro and Q-Tip all came from succesfull New York groups of their own but came together based on the unbelivable talent they heard this 19 year old display on the microphone. The song that stood out in a respect was "Life's A Bitch" as it was not only the other track featuring an unknown Queens producer (L.E.S.) but also featured the only guest apperance on the album with AZ. Fortunately both of these debutants suprised everyone by supplying guest verses and beats, respectively, that were just as good as the others and have definitely stood the test of the time. If you're looking for a perfect album, "Illmatic" is the one and maybe only example of what an absolutely flawless hip-hop LP is supposed to sound. But you know all this already, so why I dwell on it....
As previously reported on April 19, Nas and Colombia/Sony is releasing the 20:th anniversary of "Illmatic" (called the XX Edition). Beside the original ten track set, remastered to sound as good as possible, the release include a second disc that includes remasters of every single one of the original 1994 remixes by producers like Large Pro, Groove Merchantz, Joe The Butcher, LG Experience, Q-Tip, Def Jef, and the UK:s The Creators and Dave Scratch - all originally available on the original 12" singles. The remaining bonus tracks are remastered versions of a 8 minutes Stretch & Bobbito Show freestyle circa early '94 as well as the previously unreleased (in any official capacity) "I'm A Villain. In other words a much better reissue than the 10 anniversary 2xCD from 2004 - what would be the dot over the i would be to have one of the CD:s enhanced and include the 20 minute documentary "Time is Illmatic" which you can see above.
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