April 19 will officially mark the 20-year anniversary of the release of Nas’ landmark debut album, Illmatic. Released on that date in 1994, Illmatic has grown to nearly folkloric proportions in the Hip Hop music world, considered by many to be the album that started the renaissance of East Coast Hip Hop in the mid 1990’s. In its 20-year existence, it has also received a laundry list of accolades from a wide range of well-respected Hip Hop and Pop music publications: The Source, Vibe, XXL, Rolling Stone, Blender, EgoTrip, Pitchfork Media, Spin, Village Voice, and MTV to name a few. Both the artist and the album have even been given the legendary treatment in 2014, with Nas performing Illmatic in its entirety while backed by the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center and the release of the documentary “Time Is Illmatic” at the Tribeca Film Festival. With the celebration of Illmatic’s 20th anniversary in full swing, here are a few things about the album that you may not have known before. Know your history.
1. Before he adopted his “Nasty Nas” persona, Nas originally used the name “Kid Wave” as his Hip Hop nickname.
2. The original album cover for Illmatic was supposed to feature Nas holding Jesus Christ in a headlock, a play on his famous line from the song “Live At the Barbeque”: “When I was 12, I went to Hell for snuffin’ Jesus…”
3. Illmatic is listed in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, a book by Robert Dimery featuring commentaries from top U.S. and U.K. music critics and journalists.
4. Part of the video for “It Ain’t Hard To Tell”, the second single from Illmatic, was shot on the same stage as the finale scene of the 1983 Hip Hop film Wild Style.
5. Illmatic was certified platinum in 2001, seven years after its initial release and the same year Nas released his fifth solo album, Stillmatic. Google+