100 Best Albums of the '90s

From Moby to Nirvana, the records that defined a decade

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Nas, 'Illmatic'

26. Nas, 'Illmatic'

Straight from hip-hop's legendary Queensbridge, New York, projects to the studio, with an oven-roasted voice, butter flow, man-child eyes and a pure love of the music, streetwise intellectual Nas raised the bar on Nineties MC'ing. Nas had an eye on the street, the prison and the dreams of every ghettoman, whether he was sampling the classic film Wild Style, giving his jazz-trumpeter father a guest slot or offering rhymes like these: "Back in '83 I was an MC sparkin'/But I was too scared to grab the mikes in the parks and/Kick my little raps cuz I thought niggas wouldn't understand/And now in every jam I'm the fuckin man." True that.

Rolling Stone's Original 1994 Review

Video: Nas Shares His Passion For Hip-Hop Cassettes

Photos: Rolling Stone Fact-Checks Famous Rock Songs

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