Nas is having quite a month. After winning his first Grammy Award for Best Rap Album for his 2020 album, King’s Disease, earlier this month, the Queens rapper’s first studio album, Illmatic, has been inducted into the Library of Congress.
On Wednesday (March 24), the Library of Congress announced that the 27-year-old album has been selected to join the list of 25 albums selected for preservation. “The National Recording Registry will preserve our history through these vibrant recordings of music and voices that have reflected our humanity and shaped our culture for the past 143 years,” Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said in a statement. “We received about 900 public nominations this year for recordings to add to the registry and we welcome the public’s input as the Library of Congress and its partners preserve the diverse sounds of history and culture.”
In the note shared about the album, released in 1994, the Library of Congress included their reasoning for selecting Illmatic for preservation. The LP features Nas’ father Olu Dara and producers including Q-Tip, Large Professor, Pete Rock, L.E.S. and DJ Premier.
“The sound they forged features gritty drums, hazy vinyl samples and snatches of jazz and ‘70s R&B,” the Library of Congress detailed of the classic album. “It has been described as the sound of a kid in Queensbridge ransacking his parents’ record collection. While the album pulls no punches about the danger, struggle and grit of Queensbridge, Nas recalls it as a musically rich environment that produced many significant rappers, and that he “felt proud being from Queensbridge…. [W]e were dressed fly in Ballys and the whole building was like a family.”
While there are rap fans that have been critical of how the LP never received the mainstream recognition it deserved at the time, it seems like Nas’ time is now.
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