Nas Illmatic Unisex T-Shirt
Finally, a way to show your respect for some of the greatest icons, legends and pioneers that paved the way past and present. Rock this gear in style and bring back the moments that made you, memories they gave you and/or lessons they taught you. Scroll down for a history lesson with some of our favorite clips.
Welcome to the Respect Due family Nas! We salute you.
- 4.2 oz., 100% airlume combed and ringspun cotton
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- unisex sizing
- shoulder taping
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Nas – It Ain’t Hard to Tell
Illmatic is the debut studio album by American rapper Nas. It was released on April 19, 1994, by Columbia Records. After signing with the label with the help of MC Serch, Nas recorded the album in 1992 and 1993 at Chung King Studios, D&D Recording, Battery Studios, and Unique Recording Studios in New York City. Its production was handled by DJ Premier, Large Professor, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, L.E.S. and Nas himself. Styled as a hardcore hip hop album, Illmatic features multi-syllabic internal rhymes and inner-city narratives based on Nas’ experiences in Queensbridge, New York.
The album debuted at number 12 on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 94,000 copies in its first week. However, its initial sales fell below expectations and its five singles failed to achieve significant chart success. Despite the album’s low initial sales, Illmatic received rave reviews from most music critics, who praised its production and Nas’ lyricism. On January 17, 1996, the album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, and on December 11, 2001, it earned a platinum certification after shipping 1,000,000 copies in the United States. The album has sold 2 million copies in the United States as of February 6, 2019.
Since its initial reception, Illmatic has been recognized by writers and music critics as a landmark album in East Coast hip hop. Its influence on subsequent hip hop artists has been attributed to the album’s production and Nas’ lyricism. It also contributed to the revival of the New York City rap scene, introducing a number of stylistic trends to the region. The album is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential albums of all time, appearing on numerous best album lists by critics and publications.
The album cover of Illmatic features a picture of Nas as a child, which was taken after his father, Olu Dara, returned home from an overseas tour. The original cover was intended to have a picture of Nas holding Jesus Christ in a headlock, reflecting the religious imagery of Nas’ rap on “Live at the Barbeque”; “When I was 12, I went to hell for snuffing Jesus”.
The accepted cover, designed by Aimee Macauley, features a photo of Nas as a child superimposed over a backdrop of a city block, taken by Danny Clinch. In a 1994 interview, Nas discussed the concept behind the photo of him at age 7, stating “That was the year I started to acknowledge everything [around me]. That’s the year everything set off. That’s the year I started seeing the future for myself and doing what was right. The ghetto makes you think. The world is ours. I used to think I couldn’t leave my projects. I used to think if I left, if anything happened to me, I thought it would be no justice or I would be just a dead slave or something. The projects used to be my world until I educated myself to see there’s more out there.” As yet, Nas has not pointed to any outside influence for the artwork of his album cover. However, according to Ego Trip, the cover of Illmatic is “reputedly” believed to have been inspired by a jazz album, Howard Hanger Trio’s A Child Is Born (1974) — whose cover also features a photograph of a child, superimposed on an urban landscape.
Since its release, the cover art of Illmatic has also gained an iconic reputation — having been subject to numerous parodies and tributes. Music columnist Byron Crawford later called the cover for Illmatic “one of the dopest album covers ever in hip-hop.” Commenting on the cover’s artistic value, Rob Marriott of Complex writes, “Illmatic’s poignant cover matched the mood, tone, and qualities of this introspective album to such a high degree that it became an instant classic, hailed as a visual full of meaning and nuance.” XXL magazine called the album cover a “high art photo concept for a rap album” and described the artwork as a “noisy, confusing streetscape looking through the housing projects and a young boy superimposed in the center of it all.” The XXL columnist also compared the cover to that of rapper Lil Wayne‘s sixth studio album Tha Carter III (2008), stating that it also “reflects the reality of disenfranchised youth today.”
On the song “Shark Niggas (Biters)” from his debut album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… (1995), rapper Raekwon with Ghostface Killah criticized the cover of The Notorious B.I.G.‘s Ready to Die (1994), which was released a few months after Illmatic, for featuring a picture of a baby with an afro, implying that his cover had copied the idea from Nas. This generated long-standing controversy between the rappers, resulting in an unpublicized feud which Nas later referenced in the song “Last Real Nigga Alive” from his sixth studio album God’s Son (2002).
Nas – The World Is Yours
Nas – The World Is Yours (Official Music Video)
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Nas – Made You Look
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