14th out of 82 books — 24 voters
Illmatic (33⅓ #64)
Contradiction, the yin and the yang, the simultaneous existence of two competing realities, and the larger than life persona that depicts populist realism are at the core of Nas's debut album, "Illmatic." Yet Nas's identity -as an inner-city youth, a child of hip-hop, and a Black American - predicts those philosophical quandaries as much as it does its brazen ambition. Par...more
Paperback, 114 pages
Published June 1st 2009 by Continuum
(first published April 13th 2009)
To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
(showing 1-30 of 110)
Despite that I consider Nas my favourite rapper, generally I'm distrustful of anyone who says Illmatic is their favourite rap album. Why? For one thing, everyone seems to be saying it these days, from rock to rap fans; for another, few of them (especially rock fans) have bothered to listen to the rest of Nas's catalogue, parroting the righteous party line that after his first album he 'went gangsta' and ceased to say anything meaningful or realistic. Me, I'll take his second album, It Was Writte...more
Nas' debut album Illmatic has been my favorite hip hop album, so I picked up Matthew Gasteier's 33 1/3 book on it with great interest. Gasteier clearly loves the album but doesn't romanticize the impact its had on his life. Instead, he tells the story of how the album came to be, getting first-hand accounts from many of the players involved (save for producer Large Professor and Nas himself). Gasteier is a smart enough writer and determined enough journalist to get some really great stories behi...more
There's a lot of "arguably the greatest album," "arguably the greatest rapper," and other hedged appeals to meaningless critical rankings. And like a lot of hip-hop journalism, Gasteier seems reluctant to question the medium or the artists. A lot of conventional thinking and mythmaking (read: P.R.) gets parroted. Idol worship aside, and BAD copy-editing, the book has a lot of good info and is recommended for fans of the album.
I'm only a casual fan of Illmatic, so this book was a good education and, surprisingly, convinced me that the record is sort of brilliant and embodies New York's less glamorous neighborhoods in a way that not much can, musically. Very well written, though I'm deducting a star for the few typos/grammatical errors within, as well as a miscredited author in the book's first footnote (somewhere, Bakari Kitwana's weeping a little).
Pretty much what anyone who has ever read any hip hop criticism ever can expect to read about in a book about Illmatic. It is, however worth trudging through the author's rehashing of every old hip-hop studies trope if you're the sort (like me) who craves of contextual information about the making of the album. Most of this comes in the form of quotes from DJ Premiere, MC Serch, Q-Tip and excerpts of interviews, both old and new, with Nas and Large Professor (whom the author seemed a little bitt...more
Matthew Gasteier is the creator of the popular blog, fupenguin.com, which is the basis for this book. He lives in Watertown, Massachusetts. Some of his best friends are penguins.More about Matthew Gasteier...