Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Nas - Illmatic Remixes & Rarities LP


Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for thirty plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

The second Record Store Day release I'm going to write a little bit about in the Nas Illmatic Remixes & Rarities LP.  I am not a Nas devotee the way a lot of folks my age are.  Illmatic came out in 1994, as my interest in hip hop was starting to wane in favor of punk and indie rock.  The hype for Illmatic completely passed me by as by 1994 I had a car and a job, which meant my viewings of Yo! MTV Raps were becoming less frequent every day.  I wasn't aware of the famed Five Mic review in The Source.  I can't say how I missed something quite so big, but I did and it wasn't until many, many years later that I gave Illmatic a shot.

And it's a good record.  I still don't think it's anywhere near as incredible as a lot of folks do.  Lyrically, it's very good.  Production-wise, it's a mix of some of the best producers of all time, but the sound is that of a record caught in the middle of a transition in hip hop production.  Still very good, but starting to drift into territory that didn't connect with me.  But again, it's a good record and I like it enough that it made sense to pick up this remixes record for Record Store Day.

There's only one proper new song that isn't on Illmatic, "I'm a Villain."  There's also a really cool live 'freestyle' from the Stretch & Bobbito show.  Everything else is remixes of album tracks that originally appeared as b sides on singles from the album.  Maybe we don't need three versions of "It's Hard To Tell" on one album, but all of the remixes are good enough where it's fun having them all in one place for easy access.  Is it essential? Probably not, but it's very good and was not that expensive compared to the other RSD records I got taken for this year.

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