SOTD: The Vaccines – Do You Want A Man? (John Hill & Rich Costey remix)

Joey Zero

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AOTM: Nas – Illmatic

Illmatic

The phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ springs to mind with Illmatic – here, the real gold lies past what appears to be an awful attempt at photoshop. Released in 1994, just a few months before Biggie shot up as the king of the East Coast hip-hop scene, Illmatic boasts flawless beats, lyrical genius, and even a cameo from Nas’ own father on trumpet.

Although other rappers might have been more major-league or had more ammunition than Nas, he still manages to describe the fruitlessness of life on the ominous Queensbridge streets perfectly. Quotable lines like ‘No sign of the beast in the blue Chrysler, I guess that means peace’ and ‘I can’t call it; the beats make me falling asleep/ I keep falling, but never falling six feet deep’ delineate what Nas preaches: the menace of inner-city hustling.

Vocally Nas is nothing special; his charm lies instead in his perceptive lyricism, smooth execution, and the clear-cut realism of it all. Whether it’s about his brothers in jail or the futility of New York street life, Nas delivers.

Joey Zero