This week marks the 20th anniversary of Nas’ (aka Nasir Jones) seminal debut album Illmatic, which remains equally relevant today. The record—permeated with thoughtful and poetic lyrics, performed in Nas’ trademark gravelly and passionate voice—is often credited with bringing East Coast hip-hop back into the raw fold and paving the way for the likes of the Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z. One listen to “NY State of Mind” and it’s clear why the Queensbridge artist became a hip-hop icon—his first recordings have the refined clarity and lyrical range of a songwriting veteran. The anniversary coincides with both special vinyl releases for Record Store Day and commemorative documentary “Time is Illmatic,” which kicked off this year’s TriBeCa Film Festival.
Cool Hunting’s 24 Songs for 4/20