Nas Celebrates Legacy Of ‘Illmatic’ Ahead Of 30th Anniversary

Nas‘ debut album Illmatic turns 30 this Friday (April 19) and the celebrations have already begun, as the music world pays its respect to one of Hip-Hop’s most lauded classics.

On Tuesday (April 16), Nas took to Instagram to salute his collaborators on the album while harkening back to its creation, sharing a pair of vintage photos. One finds him surrounded by legendary producers Pete Rock, DJ Premier, Large Professor, LES and Q-Tip, all of whom contributed beats to the groundbreaking project.

“Grainy pictures for grainy times,” the 50-year-old captioned the post, which also included an old flick of himself and Brooklyn rapper AZ, the lone guest artist on the entirety of Illmatic.

Rapper Nas attends A Toast To The Ruler – Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Powered by Google Pixel at Culina Modern Italian on February 03, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

Arnold Turner/Getty Images for Slick Rick Music Corp.

The lyrical icon recalled his vision and mind-state while creating Illmatic, such as his goal to work with the best boardsmen in the game, which was ultimately brought into fruition.

“I had a dream I could get my favorite producers to produce on my debut album. I knew exactly what I wanted and how it should be,” Nas wrote. “But I didn’t know anyone except for Paul, so I asked him would he connect me to them all. The cool soul brother that he is helped me line it up. On April 19th we smashed sh*t.”

He notes that despite multiple songs being leaked prior to their intended release, Illmatic was still well-received and didn’t suffer in terms of critical or cultural acclaim as a result of that setback.

Nas Performing Onstage

Nas performs onstage during Hip Hop 50 Live at Yankee Stadium on August 11, 2023 in New York City.

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“Even tho the album leaked months before the release date we still are a part of music history. Thank you Large Professor (Paul) and Dj Premier who drove into the projects to pick me up a time or two. Qtip , Pete Rock , and my man from The Bridge DJ LES, and my guy AZ who was just coming up himself. And thank you to everyone involved. Friday is the albums 30th. 2 The Listeners- ONE LOVE”

Released on April 19, 1994, Illmatic is widely regarded as not only one of the greatest debuts, but overall albums in Hip-Hop history.

See Nas’ Instagram post celebrating Illmatic below and get the album on vinyl here.