Over the years, Nas went from being a young street hustler (Nasty Nas) to a boastful gangsta (Nas Escobar) to a self-proclaimed poet/prophet (Nastradamus) to a re-born encapsulation of himself (the "Stillmatic" Nas). In addition, he worked with countless legendary producers — DJ Premier, Large Professor, Pete Rock, Dr. Dre, Trackmasters, Timbaland — and put Queensbridge back on the map. Keep in mind, however, that Nas attracted a sizable share of critics as well, many of whom called him out for bluffing. After all, Nas often showcased a flair for dramatic overreaching, his ego knowing no limits. For better or worse, Nas was more his own rhetorical construction than a reality, precisely the reason why he was as criticized by his rivals as he was celebrated by his following. Born Nasir Jones, son of jazz musician Olu Dara, Nas dropped out of school in the eighth grade, trading classrooms for the streets of the rough Queensbridge projects, where he learned "street mathematics" and began emulating rappers like Big Daddy Kane, , and Kool G Rap. When he wasn't hustling to survive, he was reading books on African culture, Western civilization, lessons from the Five Percent Nation, scriptures from the Qu'ran, and chapters from the Bible. He eventually hooked up with Main Source in 1991 and laid down a verse on the group's song "Live at the Barbeque." The song became a New York favorite thanks to Nas' blazing rhymes and soon everyone began wondering who he was. A year later, MC Serch of 3rd Bass approached him about contributing a track to the Zebrahead soundtrack. Serch was the soundtrack's executive producer and, like much of New York, had been impressed by "Live at the Barbeque." Nas submitted "Halftime" and the song proved so stunning that Serch made it the soundtrack's lead-off track. Suddenly, everyone began talking about Nas.
Nas is my personal GOAT mc simply because of these 'little' facts:
-he dropped his FIRST verse on a track (Live at the BBQ) that literally outshined one of the hottest rap groups (main source) of that era... Street's disciple, my raps are trifle
I shoot slugs from my brain just like a rifle. this verse basically put the entire NYC scene on ice.
-his first album (illmatic) is arguably the best HIPHOP album of all time and definitely top 20 album in all music genre. not only is it one of the most creative, coherent, and lyrical album in hiphop, it also served as a BLUEPRINT to other mcs albums. no pun intended.
-his unreleased tracks (The Lost Tapes) shits on a lot of artists best albums.
-he is the only hiphop artist to have 2 *immediate* 5 mic albums. (stillmatic and illmatic) and this is before the source's reviews became a joke.
-he gave AZ a solid fanbase off 1 verse on illmatic(life's abitch) - not taking anything away from AZ, but nas was very influential in his career. (AZ's albums always go gold)
-regarded as the GOAT by a lot of mcs in the hiphop scene.
-he wrote the realest 2 bars (in my opinion) in the history of hiphop... But uhh, a thug changes, and love changes
and best friends become strangers, word up
before i give my breakdown on the lyrics of 'The World is Yours' i just want you to know that my opinions arent necessarily correct, maybe nas meant something deeper or i got the line all mixed up, but i will try my best to provide my interpretation of the lyrics. another thing, please dont jack what i write here and post it on sohh or allhiphop.com then claim it to be from you. i put a lot of thinking on this so please respect my effort. =)
The World is Yours - Nas, Illmatic (1994)
I sip the Dom P, watchin Gandhi til I'm charged
^he was basically givin props to Ghandi, it sounds like he's taking Ghandi's sacrifices as inspiration or fuel to perform his task (writing,composing)
Then writin in my book of rhymes, all the words pass the margin
^ahh, the INFAMOUS 'book of rhymes,' hiphop heads know that nas prefers writing his songs rather than just coming off the dome. Margins are used so that our composition whether it be legal letter, class paper or whatever can have order or to make them look proper or aligned. here it seems that 'margin' is a metaphor for goal or expectation and nas' is saying his rhymes go way beyond his own (since it is usually the author who creates the margin) expectaions and goals.
To hold the mic I'm throbbin, mechanical movement
^nas is hungry, he loves the art of MCing... that's why he is excited to grab the mic and spit that ill shit. but even tho he is nervous he still gets at it scientifically.. mechanical movement.. never fretting or moving recklessly.
Understandable smooth shit that murderers move wit
^means that his words are in codes that 'bad guys' understand or perform theyre tasks with. "smooth" means it will cause no confusion between the person who are saying it and the person who is receiving the message.
The thief's theme, play me at night, they won't act right
^means that this song is not for those who are 'well to do' or people who live on bigass cribs. this is for the people who are striving to get the things that they dont have aka a "thief"... but not necessarily by stealing, it could mean either by hustling or just working their asses off. (very clever since its entitled 'the world is yours') The "night" part seems to say that this track provides an effect if it is played during the time a person is "feeling down" or "cant see the light" (night), as if it provides inspirition, shit i dont know .
The fiend of hip-hop has got me stuck like a crack pipe
^nas is saying that hiphop got him. he is now addicted to mcing like a dopefiend is addicted to crack. hes now stuck in the game and the only way of leaving it is either by death or being broke (or rehabilitaion )
The mind activation, react like I'm facin time like
'Pappy' Mason with pens I'm embracin
^CRAAAZY WORDPLAY! pappy mason is a drug kingpin in Ny (i dunno if hes from QB or not)who is currently servin sentence when illmatic dropped. "with pens im embracin" means that pappy may be literally embracin the pens (penitentiary) while nas is embracin the fact that he is lyrically talented and has this incredible ability to write this ill lines.
Wipe the sweat off my dome, spit the phlegm on the streets
Suede Timb's on my feets, makes my cypher, complete
^nas is giving us visual images of how he acts, perform or dress in the streets.'sweat' and 'phlegm' are considered as wastes or excess of the human body, he is saying that he never lets this things stay in his body for too long... he disposes any unwanted parts immediately. the 'timbs' line is pretty self explanatory. in NY Timberlands are protocol... it's a MUST, hes saying there is a certain dress code and he fulfills it carefully.
Whether crusin in a Sikh's cab, or Montero Jeep
I can't call it, the beats make me fallin asleep
^this one im not quite sure of. but to me it seems that whatever place he goes to, the music that he hears on the radio or boombox are boring or 'always puttin him to sleep' which is kinda hard to comprehend since 86-96 is the golden era of hiphop. but it also says "i cant call it" so he doesnt really know whats the reason, maybe its just a hint that hiphop is missing an ingredient... NaS.
I keep fallin, but never fallin six feet deep
^means that nas had his own share of failures. to 'keep falling' one must rise from the fall. thats basically what nas is saying... that with every failure he encounters on the way he manages to rise up and continue on the path and continue on living.
I'm out for presidents to represent me (Say what?)
I'm out for presidents to represent me (Say what?)
I'm out for dead presidents to represent me
^classic line 4 real! dead pres = money. nas is saying that he is willing to let his money do the 'talking' for him, let his money represent him in all his bussiness. nobody can say that there is no more racism today, the minorities are still being treated like shit by 'big bussiness america' and nas is saying that he'll use his money as an equalizer... to go to the places that he cant normally go and do the things that he cant normally do .
Illmatic is just as enjoyable now as it was in 94. One of hip-hop's best.. hh, glad you came around to enjoying Illmatic. It was you that thought it was overrated, right? What made you change your mind?
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when i first listened to 'Illmatic', i thought it was a great album, i just didn't think it was top 5 or even top 10 material. But when i gave it about 3 really good listens, it became easiliy my top 3 albums of all time.
Life is short and the art long, the occasion instant, experiment perilous, decision difficult.
i got liquid swords on my top 5, but it aint seeing illmatic lyrically. production wise it can be equal, but lyrically nah. there's too many skits in that LP, and gza came off just too abstract for me. not taking anything away from it tho its an ill album.
p's top 5:
Only rap albums I can think of that I personally hold to a higher esteem than Illmatic:
(no specific order)
Wu Tang Clan - Enter The Wu Tang: 36 Chambers Basically my favorite rap album ever.. cliche as it sounds. I think it has much better production than Illmatic, and better lyricism at times. To me it just generally has more of a raw flavor than Illmatic.
Black Star - Black Star Basically purely for the lyricism. It's not really technical and is inferior to Illmatic in terms of production and in terms of technical lyricism.. but the meaning they put in the songs does plenty to make up for that.
Public Enemy - Fear of a Black Planet Everything on this album from the funky and abrasive production to Chuck's explosive delivery just gets me hyped. I realize why people will scoff at me saying this is a better album that Illmatic but I definitely like it more.