K-Dot credits Queens MC with inspiring him.
"We share somewhat of a similar story. Just being from a community and not being sucked in around what's going on," K-Dot said of the Queens MC. "Even though he's from the projects and I'm from Compton. I'm sure he's seen a lot, he's done a lot."
Like Nas, Lamar's music is steered by a personal perspective. "You hear it in my music what's surrounded me," explained Lamar. "And just to be able to elevate your mind a little bit further past that through writing is bigger than one song. In order to do that and craft that, it's on another plane, and I wouldn't have been able to do that if it wasn't for that album, truthfully."
Illmatic has been praised as one of the most prolific releases in hip hop history. Speaking from his own viewpoint, Nas said that the album was so impactful because it was unique. "I rap from the perspective of a human being, and in rap that wasn't really the thing," he recalled. "I did mine my way, and in me doing mine my way, I think it encouraged a lot more people in the state of rap at that time—and now even—to feel free. To speak about whatever you feeling, without feeling like they gon' come down on you 'cuz you not tough. Even a gangster cries."
Nas is currently out on tour to commemorate the album, and the release of a special edition LP Illmatic XX. He will perform at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., this weekend.
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(Photos from left: Reuters/Lucas Jackson/Landov, Harsha Gopal, PacificCoastNews.com)