Rapper Nas Illmatic Essay

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Rapper Nas’s first album Illmatic is arguably one of the most influential rap albums to date. His poetic word play creates cinematic imagery of what it entails to be a black adolescent in New York City, from the struggles of poverty to police racial profiling. Throughout the album Nas clearly defines money as important and influential. Money is mentioned in every song on the album for any number of reasons; a goal to obtain, a justification for an action, or because it is a dominating thought. In this essay, my focal point is to explore the lives of urban African Americans and the politics of money in Nas’s debut album Illmatic. I am also going to argue that Illmatic changed the way rap was created and also perceived; Nas’s lyrics show how…show more content…
Nas recalls an encounter with an enemy stating that, “once they caught us off-guard, the mac-10 was in the grass, and I ran like a cheetah with thoughts of an assassin” (Nas, N.Y. State of Mind). He does not say this line just because of the stereotypical nature; he does it to inform the listener that although he sees the peril in the violence he has no choice but to engage if he plans on surviving. It is also important to note that Nas compares himself to a cheetah, a big-cat, but compares only his thoughts to those of an assassin. The significance of this is that Nas sees himself more along the lines of an animal who is only vicious when need be, and once he is in that situation his thoughts transform to mimic those of someone whose profession is to be vicious and ruthless. Nas’s metaphorical strategy in this line provide the listener with a representation of what is necessary to survive where he’s from and also provide a parallel within himself, the deep thinker and the gangster. He provides a work of audio art that cannot be skimmed through, but needs to be thought about and taken in context; this complexity goes beyond the norms of

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