Top 100 Greatest Music Albums by JamesMowbray (2019)
- Chart updated: 04/08/2019 13:15
- (Created: 11/11/2016 14:58).
- Chart size: 100 albums.
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The record starts with 'The Genesis' to ease the listener in before 9 tracks packed full of dense lyrical content and perfect wordplay, whilst also sampling Nas' verse from 'Live at the BBQ', probably the first sign along with his feature on MC Serch's (an executive producer on the record) 'Back to the Grill Again' that Nas had incredible potential. This potential is met immediately in standout first track 'NY State of Mind'. An eerie piano loop, courtesy of DJ Premier, acts as the backdrop for some of the most powerfully vivid verses ever spit. The first verse manages to be thrilling with lines like "I ran like a cheetah with thoughts of an assassin" whilst also being contemplative about the state of the streets. This interpolation only increases the effect of each aspect of the verse by tying the 2 styles together.
'Life's a Bitch' starts with probably the best guest verse in all of hip hop by AZ. "Visualising the realism of life in actuality, fuck who the baddest, a person's status depends on salary" makes a welcome change from the undeniably fun but less real G-funk that had dominated the west for years at this point. In spite of this Nas is in no way upstaged delivering a verse that is in every way the equal of AZ's guest spot, in it he manages to talk only about himself without sounding egotistic by filling the verse again with very real, introspective lyrics like "I switched my motto, instead of saying fuck tomorrow that buck that bought a bottle could've struck the lotto", which may be the best bar on the album. The production on this track has a less negative vibe than 'NY state of mind' but the blunt hook and outro from Olu Dara keep the sound grounded with the subject matter.
A third classic in a row is delivered with 'the world is yours', the catchiest track on the album featuring the immortal line "I'm out for dead presidents to represent me", which became the foundation of one of Jay-Z's best ever songs.
After these harsher tracks 'Halftime' gives Nas a chance to spit insanely creative rhymes without the limits of keeping up the atmosphere of the previous tracks. This is complimented by a mean bassline and jazz samples in the hook which provide a great sound and rhythm without ever swallowing up any parts of the verses.
'Memory Lane' calms down the vibe of the album and goes back to the conscious content of the earlier part of the record. Again the sound immerses you in the city but with a less oppressive and more reminiscent atmosphere, echoed in the lyrical content of the verses.
'One Love' provides the best storytelling on the album by using letters Nas has written to his people in jail, giving the context for Nas to describe all the smaller details of his neighbourhood adding significantly to the more general and bigger issues described in the rest of the album.
'One Time 4 Your Mind' slows the pace from the rapid rhymes that have dominated up to this point giving the listener more time to appreciate the lyrical prowess at work. 'Represent' contrasts this with having the most rhythmic beat of the album and shouts of "represent" acting as the hook. Again Nas uses lyrics about himself to build a picture not just of himself but of his lifestyle and therefore the reality of the streets he's grown up in.
The spoken outro of 'Represent' gives a breather before closer 'It Ain't Hard to Tell' which has probably the most layered and chaotic beat of the record which switches slightly when the first verse hits so there's nothing to distract from some of the best verses on Illmatic. The track uses more complex rhyme schemes to match with the more 'out there' production to make it one of the most interesting tracks on the project.
Illmatic completely deserves its place at the top of most lists regarding hip hop albums, not only was it influential on some of the best hip hop in the years that followed (like Jay-Z's 'Reasonable Doubt' and Mobb Deep's 'The Infamous'), but it features lyrical ability that hasn't been matched since and the best east coast production of the 90s along with 'Enter the 36 Chambers'. Honestly the album's only drawback is that it overshadowed the brilliant 'It Was Written' simply because nothing could successfully follow up a record of this quality.
Best Track: NY state of Mind(First added to this chart: 11/11/2016)
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Top 100 Greatest Music Albums composition
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Top 100 Greatest Music Albums chart changes
| Down 1 from 64th to 65th|
The Low End Theory
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| Down 1 from 65th to 66th|
by Arcade Fire
| Down 1 from 66th to 67th|
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|08/20/2019 16:44||leniad||130 ratings||70/100|
|05/03/2019 19:23||scwrlw||57 ratings||86/100|
|02/22/2019 16:45||ExTeaSea||136 ratings||88/100|
|02/21/2019 05:51||Kurtco||27 ratings||91/100|
|10/28/2018 23:59||sidneyfranklyn||438 ratings||87/100|
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Top 100 Greatest Music Albums comments
One of the great chart I've ever seen on this site...
Some really nice picks here and appreciate the depth with which you've made your track by track notes, if it seems a little random as to which ones you've given writing to. Can't wait for more!
I may not always agree with you, but your taste is brilliant!
Plus your Illmatic description is just wow