BET Talks Reflects on 30 Years of Nas' Illmatic: A Hip-Hop Masterpiece

Join trailblazing filmmaker Ralph McDaniels as he explores the enduring impact and cultural legacy of Nas' groundbreaking debut album, featuring insights from industry icons and a deep dive into the making of one of rap's most revered works.

On the 30th anniversary of Nas’ seminal debut album Illmatic, BET Talks is celebrating the project’s continuous impact on the hip-hop culture. Narrated by trailblazing filmmaker and producer Ralph McDaniels, the installment of the series delves into the creation and the legacy of one of the crown jewels of rap music's cannon.

“For me, a classic album is, well, of course, I started off as a DJ, so I always listen to the music first. So the beats are very important,” McDaniels said in the opening montage.

“Then I start listening to the lyrics. What is this person saying? Does he deserve to be on the mic on that beat? Sonically, how does it sound? The quality of it to me is super important,” McDaniels continued. “The lyrics have to be relevant at that time. You know, when you listen to Illmatic, if you drove by a block and you saw exactly what he was saying.”

Released on April 19, 1994, Illmatic was a synergy of lyrical dexterity and cutting-edge production that forever transformed the hip-hop landscape and catapulted Nas into the upper echelon of elite MCs. Featuring contributions from esteemed lyricists Large Professor, DJ Premier, Q-Tip,  Pete Rock, L.E.S., and a debut verse from AZ, the LP stands as one of the most revered albums in rap music history. A testament to its brilliance, Illmatic was awarded the prestigious 5-Mic rating from The Source Magazine, solidifying its place in the pantheon of rap music.

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