Nas Essentials

Nas Essentials

"Name a rapper that I ain't influenced," Nas rapped in 2001 on “Ether." The Queensbridge lyricist's bold claim may be true: in 1994, hip-hop changed in the wake of his seminal debut, Illmatic. Featuring production from DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, and Large Professor, the LP is arguably hip-hop's greatest album. Post-Illmatic, rappers hired several big-name producers rather than relying on one for an entire project. Nas' “Street Dreams (Remix)” is also the first rap song to feature R. Kelly on a hook—Kelly later became one of hip-hop's most in-demand hook specialists. The Firm (Nas, AZ, Nature, and Foxy Brown) were hip-hop's first supergroup. Nas even drove a Bentley before it became trendy in hip-hop circles. Well over two decades after being introduced via Main Source's “Live at the Barbecue,” Nas still releases music today but his place on hip-hop's Mount Rushmore has already been secured.

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