The 7th Chamber: It Was Written vs Illmatic

blame it on JES7 March 16, 2012

Nas, Foxy Brown & Cormega

Here’s a “touchy” topic I’m gonna take a chance with. I expect to catch some flack for it too, but remember, this is solely my opinion. In all fairness, I know that I’m not the only one that shares this opinion, although those of us who do are in a minority. Some of you may yell “Blasphemy!” Fine. Let me reiterate: this is solely my personal opinion. The topic? My overall love and admiration for It Was Written over Illmatic.

Now let me set something straight before I explain my reasoning behind this. Illmatic is a favorite of mine. I also share some of the same sentiments as my peers who agree with me on the subject: Illmatic is and will be one of the greatest debut Hip-Hop album. Ever. That goes without saying. To attempt to recreate an album with producers of high caliber that appeared on Illmatic is nearly impossible. Chocolate Boy Wonder, L.E.S., Premo, Q-Tip and Large Pro were all at their peak when Illmatic was released. Perhaps that’s one reason why I’d choose It Was Written over Illmatic. The contrasting sounds from various different producers almost made it seem more of a mixtape than an actual album; add to the fact the brief time stamp: 10 tracks deep. Whereas with It Was Written, it just seemed a little more cohesive. With Trackmasters handling the bulk of the production (who I thought were at the top of their game at the time), it had a unique bond and sound. Cinematic, almost.

If you take a look back at the majority of my posts, it may be apparent that I’m a huge mafioso-rap connoisseur. I’m a sucker for G Rap, Mobb Deep, AZ and Baba Shallah (The Chef). It Was Written gave birth to Nas’ “Don” nom de plume: Escobar. With It Was Written, I could get into the more poetic, story telling zone that Nas Escobar penned. Yes, IWW did slightly help Nas drift toward the mainstream, but take away “If I Ruled the World” (which is still not a bad song at all) and “Nas Is Coming” (which has one of the worst hooks, ever), and add in “Deja Vu” (big shout out to DJ Mike Nice!) and IWW would be a near perfect street album, deserving of at least 4.5 mics versus the original 4. Ironically though, with the hypothetical absence of those two songs, IWW would have been just as short and concise as Illmatic.

On the production tip, I was always drawn in to the outstanding flip of 80s samples, without them sounding corny at all. Poke & Tone mastered this on IWW, utilizing late 70s, early 80s hits like Whodini’s “Friends”, “Starlight” by Stephanie Mills, Sting, Linda Clifford and even a Billboard number one hit by The Eurythmics.

On the penmanship tip, heady jewels like “Black Girl Lost” knocked heavily and opened up the door to the third eye, sympathizing with the dire straits that Black women face in the hood, while the poignant first-person object narrative of “I Gave You Power” painted an intense image of the casualties of the “tools” that were the foundation of inner-city wars. And of course, how can anyone forget the pre-Nature The Firm? If it wasn’t for “Affirmative Action”, the world wouldn’t have ever known of Cormega, except those diehard heads who knew about the older MC Cor and some of the joints he did with Blaq Poet & DJ Hot Day. IWW was just, in my opinion, a well thought out, well executed anthology that read like a Mario Puzo script, save for the two “misses.” Then again, even Mr. Puzo had a miss with the third installment of the Godfather trilogy.

I’d like an honest opinion from the dopehouse on your thoughts on this subject, and as nice as it would be to have a civil build about this, tell me how you really feel.

PREVIOUS: 2DBZ Presents Pyrex Vision: The Pain (or, Crappy Songs By Classic Rappers)

  • michael cardigan

    I agree.


    ITT Nas’ new music is so terrible people feel obligated to discuss the only nas albums that weren’t shit. the only thing nas has done thats worth a damn was belly

  • chuck

    i agree. but theyre both great albums.

  • d easy

    illmatic the GOAT imo

  • muk

    ooow hell ye. ere! ere! it was written, 1 of the best ever!

  • Universal God Allah

    You’re just bored. You don’t mean any of this. Illmatic does NOT sound like a mixtape. In fact, single artist mixapes did not exist at that time. Apparently you’re quite young and don’t understand the significance of Illmatic and what it meant to Hip-Hop. You probably found out about Nas on IWW.

    There were a few moments in Hip-Hop history where one song/artist/album change the course of the entire genre. Illmatic was one of those. Before that it wss Rakim’s debut. And before that it was Run DMC’s debut. Do you get where I’m coming from? Probably not.

    So… before you start flying off at the keyboard about your random uninformed thoughts learn your history.

    You blogger kids kill me!!


    take it in blood>illmatic

  • I dont agree i believe Illmatic has little to no flaws. yes there were a slew of different great producers but the way it gelled together so that it didnt sound all over the place is amazing especially compared to todays music and how everyone has 10 producers on 1 songs and there albums are all over the place. Illmatic still kept it gritty new york style while staying true to Hip-Hop in general. But i do understand your reasoning for picking IWW over Illmatic it did read more like a cinematicly themed album and more thought out. Still 2 great albums

  • DBS

    Both are great, I just don’t see any real flaws in Illmatic but there are some minor ones as you mentioned on It Was Written so I do think Illmatic is a better album.

  • It comes down to preference, a lot of people like It Was Written over Illmatic and voice their opinions on it often, stop acting like youre so fucking hip and feel the need to write an entire post about it, nobody cares.

  • music is subjective. so there’s no wrong or right answer. haha. it’s like debating your favorite food.

    for me, illmatic, but I like It Was Written as well. The reason I choose “Illmatic” is because that vibe was wholly authentic.

  • call me li

    @Universal God Allah

    first off love the name. second I am only 22 yet I completely hear what you are saying and agree. No other Nas album can touch Illmatic. Personally I also will forever keep Hip Hop is Dead on rotation Illmatic because that’s how I discovered Nas (say what you will). Hip Hop is Dead may be crap to you as an oldhead, but I love it and relate to it on par with Illmatic, although I know no Nas album will be greater or have an effect like Illmatic.

    I say all that to say just because we are young and have a different perspective doesn’t mean we can’t dig how the elders see it.

    Inch Allah

  • Anon Jones

    IWW is Trackmasters. If you like Trackmasters then you’ll probably prefer IWW. How you can not call Illmatic his greatest album of all time – and put it in the top 5 greatest hip hop albums of all time – does not make sense. You can prefer IWW to Illmatic but it’s just not a better album, nor did it have or will it ever have as amazing an impact on the culture.

  • chomp

    you see how you said take away two tracks from IWW? Illmatic all in all

  • marty mcfly

    Illmatic was the better album but I think there both good for different reasons. Illmatic was just pure hip hop and thats what people miss nowadays so they expect Nas to bring that back but alot of that has to do with the sound and the whole jazzy type ill vibe on the album. Also Nas was young but still intelligent so you had that rebellious young vibe along with an Mc that was a true writer not just someone who flips a bunch of metaphors but someone of does that and by the end of the rhyme it all makes sense. It Was Written was just as good but I think Nas just overreached a little to far into the mafioso raps and thats what makes it sound too dark at times BUT Nas had If I Ruled The World on it and that song his a perfect example of how to go commercial and still keep it true to the art at the same time. Take it in Blood, The Message, Street Dreams and the story telling songs like Suspect Witness were also incredible songs but I think Nas was trying to compete with the tales of Biggie, Mobb Deep, Rae and Jay just started buzzing so I think he went to far with some of the lyrical content and that changed the vibe a little in comparison to his debut album. So Illmatic > but It Was Written was good for the time of 96.

  • chomp

    they both dope ass albums and I can bump both thru so ehhh

  • Both are great bodies of work, but I still have to lean more towards Illmatic from a personal preference, but I completely understand what your saying. Illmatic may not of had the cinematic feel of a cohesive unit, but each track to me stood out and carries its own weight.

    It Was Written however gives me the feeling of a full listen from start to finish, but separately it has its share of fillers and just weaker tracks which sound good in a a full listen, but as stand alone tracks definitely don’t measure up to the quality of Illmatic. It just felt like every song on Illmatic was touched on as a project in itself, where It Was Written was just parts to a whole. Just my thoughts though.

    Illmatic rarely ever leaves my rotation, and I can’t remember the last time I went to play IWW.

  • t.a.morales

    I think Illmatic was a better album but I liked It Was Written more. Two GREAT albums tho.

  • fish lips


  • illmatic was probably one of the best albums recorded and was monumental to the Hip Hop movement But nonetheless I personally think i’d still take IWW over illmatic anyday. From beginning to end we saw a part of nas not depicted on illmatic it felt like he had complete freedom so i definitely agree with this.

  • Illmatic was a great album. But it was more like a collection of brilliant songs. It Was Written felt like a true album because it really sounded like a story. Illmatic was more braggadocio and had less of concepts. It Was Written had it all. Bragging mixed in with some really cinematic moments.

  • dalek

    I’ve been saying this for years now. I’m glad me and my friends aren’t the only ones who think this. It Was Written is my favorite hip hop album of all-time. Take it in Blood alone secures the album as one of the best ever, and the “time” issue is a huge part in why I can’t call Illmatic better. Nice write-up.

    “Why shoot the breeze about it, when you could be about it?”

  • WEEZYisTHEbest

    Rebirth > Nas’s career

  • method

    I agree illmatic does not sound like a mixtape justice

  • Gawd

    IWW is better than Illmatic. if i ruled the world is not bad and if faggots knew, that song is hiphop as fuck and not some mainstream shit just cause L. Hill is in it. the concept of the song was taken from fuckin Kurtis Blow so i don’t understand the hate for it. Nas is Coming aside from the atrocious chrous is not that bad of a song.




  • Kevin

    My dude Mario Puzo didnt write the 3 godfather saga his wife did. He died and she finished it and ruined whatever he had planned. Atleast get those facts straight man. I understand what your saying but I disagree on If I Rule The World. That def wasnt a miss and should certainly stay on the album. Maybe at a differet track number however. Also, no way does Illnatic sound like a mixtape. Mixtapes are usually longer than that first off, nobody likes a short mixtape. We wanna hear you spit as much as possible on ever beat you can. Illmatic was the greatest rap album ever because it had a great flow from one trackto another and made you feel the heartbeat of New York. IWW was great but not better than Illmatic. Someone wrote Take It In Blood > Illmatic, please jump off a cliff.

  • Gawd

    another thing niggas wanted Nas to do more Illmatic shit but when it dropped niggas wasn’t supporting it like that. shit took like 10 years to go plat. so niggas just want rappers to stay underground and not have the full success they should. shits still that way now.


  • bigzizzo

    no way….must be under 30…no old head would speak such nonsense! it was written was too glossy and poppy for nas. if he would’ve brought iww out before illmatic..he wouldnt be around today!

  • I’d say Illmatic sounded more cohesive than it was written. Those beats formed like Voltron with the dusty 94 sound. IWW was great though, second best album. Let’s hope this next Nas album kills it

  • SmokinAces

    Illmatic was perfect. IWW was great but had some filler. Illmatic was ten cohesive amazing tracks. Nothing wack, no wasted time.

  • SavannahChitlinPimp

    I think people like to say IWW was better than Illmatic just to be different. What you prefer is what you prefer, but you’re not gonna tell me that IWW did not have a lot of flaws. So you can’t say it was a better album than Illmatic, which had absolutely NO FLAWS AT ALL. NONE. ZERO. ZIP. NADA.

  • SavannahChitlinPimp

    BTW, how do you claim IWW is better when, even after taking of two songs and adding another one, it still only gets 4.5 mics from you? You do realize Illmatic has 5 right? And Illmatic sounds like a mixtape? WTF. Dude you sound stupid with that one.

  • Juice101

    I like how these so called hip-hop purist et on here and bash people for having a opinion.so because he prefer iww over illmatic he’s not a true hip-hop fan? Lol some of you old heads are worst than mainstream fans at times..oh yeah I too prefer iww

  • therealMartyMackFlyy


  • iLL Dezire

    It WAS Written! Everyone always says Hell no but I say Hell yea,,, 1st time fee and
    nas linked up! And the firm fam too. Classic beats classic artist and.classic stories! It was wriitten over illmatic

  • iLL Dezire

    Dre and nas***
    Fuck autocorrect Lol

  • Nas


  • Thinker

    what’s wrong with “If I Ruled The World”? that was one of the best songs in Hip Hop! I dont get you guys, whenever that song comes on, everybody on the block goes wild! wtf is wrong wit u guys? smh. i can dig your opinion tho, i always hear ppl favoring IWW over Illmatic.

  • turff

    I mostly agree! My itunes got more plays on IWW than on Illmatic except IWW had some wack tracks, Illmatic had none

  • leutrim rexhaj

    no, while with your edits iww would be as consistent and filler-less like illmatic, it doesnt reach the heights that illmatic does. NY State of Mind and World is yours trump anything on iww

  • CnQ

    Illmatic everytime over IWW. I was in high school (the south)when Illmatic dropped and I thought NaS was a god. I was shocked at the realization that he was a few years my senior. I actually had a dub of it on a TDK 60 (with Jeru the Damaja, “Intro (Life)” thru to “You Can’t Stop the Prophet” on the B side due to the 44 min of Illmatic) and I rocked it until it popped then when out and copped it. I did not need any other albums, having the entire thing memorized. By the time IWW dropped (’96) I was in college. I remember V89 (FSU) had a Hip Hop show every Saturday from 4p – 8p and they had a call in about which was a better album, NaS “IWW” or De La Soul “Stake is High”. The DJ was all about SiH. I wanted to call in and shout to the top of my lungs “IWW” with even hearing SiH. Then I copped SiH…and SiH was better. There is no way I would say SiH is better than Illmatic (even though I hold SiH in extremely high reverence). Illmatic bent the trajectory of Hip Hop music upon impact. NaS captured that time in a box and expressed what is was like to become a man on the tail in of the crack era (“I’m up early on my born day 20 years I’m blessing…). IWW simply added to the thug fantasy of mafioso rap. I felt like he he went from making a poetic documentary that received the Palme d’Or at Cannes to writing a Michael Bay screenplay, selling it to Hollywood, and opening on the July 4th weekend.

  • Just My Opinion

    I agree. It was written is a doper album to me. Illmatic is a classic though, and definitely was a great way for Nas to be introduced to the world for the first time. Yeah it had less songs, but that doesn’t really matter cause damn near all the songs on it were dope. I just feel that It was written was timeless though. All and all I thought It was written was a project that had more of a concept, and was DEFINITELY cinematic. Every song detailed that queens street life and made you envision every story he told on the album. “I gave you power”, “Street Dreams”, “THE MESSAGE”, “Shootouts”, “SUSPECT”, “Take it in blood”. Man this shit had toooooooooo many fucking bangers on it!


    IWW is def a better more cohesive piece of work, for all the reasons you named. I think the debut factor contributes alot to the immense popularity of Illmatic

  • SavannahChitlinPimp

    Love how people state an opinion but if somehow voices a disagreement (aka THEIR opinion), they’re “mad”. No it’s opposing opinion. Deal with it.

  • SavannahChitlinPimp

    And you actually do unknowingly try discredit a classic album by claiming it was more like a mixtape.

    He was calm. cool and collected..One interview I seen on NAS when they asked him why dont you drop albums back to back like most artist why do you risk losing you momentum. and he said “I write after I live it.” and the it was written lost tapes are some massive moments of a getting money queens kid recollects where he is in life and where the hood was. Perfect. However.

    True story since people know PUN is my cousin.. I worked on the set of John Blaze Video as a intern/Gofor and when nas showed up to the set (Directed by chris robinson) I had to ask him if he needed anything. Nervous…. I went up to my hero and words fumbled out at first. But then I stood before and what was suppose to come out like would you like something to drink? came out like … What were you thinking? What were you thinking when you said… “I peeped you fronting… I was in the jeep suck in the seat tinted with heat BEATS BUMPING!!!” He looked at me with the chipped tooth style and said… “Same thing Im thinking now shorty” “I write what I hear” You are verses with the 19 year old nas verses the 21 year old nas. Older with the Pen master will shine bright always…

  • P.H.I.L.L.Y

    I agree with you. It was written was a better album than Illmatic.

    Illmatic was NAs at his rawest. It was written was his best as an artist. IT was written just was much deeper and a better album.

  • P.H.I.L.L.Y

    Put it this way. Illmatic was MJ getting 63 against the Celts.

    Dman this Mofo is unstoppable.

    IWW was MJ getting a 3 peat.

    Damn He might be the best that ever did it.

  • ianism

    your arguments are valid – and i think Take It In Blood is one of the best-sounding songs Nas has put out – IWW is an excellent work of art. but Illmatic is still better i think. and it’s not that close either.

  • yaboysibz

    Illmatic = The Godfather; It Was Written = The Godfather II. They’re both top 5 Hip-Hop albums, the better depends on preference.

    To me Illmatic is a soldier’s story. NYSOM is a statement and a warning, Life’s A Bitch is a young cat tryin to figure out life. He shows his aspirations on The World Is Yours. The rest plays like a weekend spent in the projects, sittin in the park, reppin your hood, remembering homies doin time and a lot of shit talking.

    It Was Written, he’s still the soldier, but he’s on the way to becoming the don. He’s not at the top yet but he’s close. He’s still gettin his hands dirty; The Message, Shootouts, Suspect, The Setup. But now he’s on the rise and making a name for himself; Street Dreams, Watch Dem Niggas; Take It In Blood. This time the beats play a larger role in painting this picture than they did with Illmatic. It plays like a mafia soundtrack; the violins, strings, and long basslines.

    It all comes down to preference. Me personally, I think IWW has more variety, the Mobb Deep featured tracks and Suspect got that hood vibe while the rest gives off a mob mentality. For me that makes IWW>Illmatic.

  • eraw

    I’m happy this is being said, I always thought so… The Message just says it all

  • Fun Funk Machine

    stfu yall just wanna differ while majority of the world picks Illmatic. ure some hips

  • unclesam

    I don´t agree, I think Illmatic was much, much, much better than It Was Written. If you plucked out all the average tracks off of IWW, it´d stand a chance, perhaps, but as it stands, nah, Illmatic is one of the three best hip-hop albums of all time, maybe the best. IWW is a missed opportunity, imo. But I respect your opinion.


    1. you shouldn’t be writing about music anymore. 2. kill your self 3. illmatic is the best hip-hop album ever released. fact not opinion.

  • Illaiiller

    I love IWW but i got 2 go with IllMatic. Ive always said that IWW needed sum Pete Rock Tracks. I wish Nas and Pete dident have a falling IWW whould of sounded a whole lot crazyer

  • Corey

    if you never lived the struggle Nas is talking about, and dont realize Nas created the most lyrical, and well produced alubm at the time(which was years ahead of its time), then there is no need for you to be typing any of this. illmatic is a miracle for its time. Not only did he change hip-hop, he raised the bar before there even was one. Nas did it better than anyone has to this date. If you dont realize how much of a catalyst illmatic was i dont know what to tell you… illmatic hands down all time.

    If you like It Was Written better, that’s your opinion, so just say that… Do Not try to compare the most breakthrough album ever created to its successor.

  • Chris K

    It’s funny I ran into this article because me and my boy always thought It Was Written was better than Illmatic and are reasoning was just like yours. We felt that Illmatic was more of just classic records put into one, sort of like a compilation and IWW was more of a thought out, well planned masterpiece album. It is in my opinion the greatest rap album of all time because of the effect it had on not only me but the rap game. No album has came close to IWW as far as lyricism, production and subject matter. But this article is a great article and I agreed with every single thing you said. Much respect to you.

  • word

    See I started to think IWW was better than Illmatic the other day, then I realized I only thought that because I’ve listened to Illmatic so many times.

  • kika117

    If I ruled the World was the start of the ending for Hip-Hop as we knew it! For that fact alone, It Was Written CANNOT be better than Illmatic!
    Plus, arguably the best track off IWW was not even on IWW – Silent Murder!
    You can’t argue taste though, so it’s whatever. I just think the argumentation is total crap:=)
    With all that said, I really like IWW, but Illmatic is off limits!

  • Birdman

    Take Care > Illmatic

  • factormax

    i’d say it was written has better highs, but illmatic is more consistant. when i listen to illmatic, no song really stands out, they’re all equally amazing. i can only listen to about half of it was written, but live nigga rap and the message are two of my favorite songs ever.

  • both were great but ive been saying this for years

  • billy

    ILLMATIC SOUNDS LIKE A MIXTAPE????? really..??? i just think you didnt quite get the album but thats ok its just ur opinion i guess…

  • DJ Husslin Keez

    Both are Amazing records but I have always had to argue that It was Written was better. In addition to what you have already stated, as a kid from the MidWest when It Was Written dropped, this was the first time that Nas was known by all Hip-Hop fans. Although, The World is Yours from Illmatic was in heavy rotation on the local radio station, If I Ruled the World put him in a different space. This was a period of time when the MidWest, the South, and the West had West Coast music in heavy rotation. So when I was banging Illmatic cats were like “Oh Yea I like that cut but who is Dude” But when If I Ruled the World came out cats started saying “Oh so you listening to that Nas huh?” Not to mention that he was working with Dr Dre and the album was rugged and raw despite a softer commercial “If I Ruled the World” which was still dope.

  • mark

    i had to read this twice, and i dont think you thought this through enough, illmatic and it was written ARE NOT COMPAREABLE. fuck your opinion this is a stunt to get readers

  • yuknowimsayin

    even production was better on illmatic, 10 of unforgettable beats like pete rock q-tip large pro. premo bangers to par with, makes IWW nothin special

  • George21

    Couldnt take this seriously once i read “Illmatic sounds like a mixtape”. Just a terrible ass post overall. Shoulda kept this opinion to yourself because you look foolsih

  • quas

    streets disciple > illmatic & it was written


  • kamikazee

    what about Wiz’s Rolling Papers?

  • Circa1996

    Not to sound like an old head shi**ing on young dudes…but to make this comparison you need a perspective of the time….IWW is a dope album and by today’s standards would be a Super classic….but at the time it was viewed as a slight disappointment…

    Coming off of illmatic and in comparison to what Big the Wu and Mobb Deep were releasing at the time; the people wanted more.

    Beats Rhymes and life also came out that summer and I remember mad people saying it was a let down as well. It’s all relative. From someone who was 17 at the time, me an my peoples expected and wanted more. Wu was killing it, and the purple tape had dropped the summer before. Also the fugees had just dropped the score a few months prior.

    Illmatic was a certified classic there is no revisionist history needed it stands alone then and now.

    Sidebar: Reasonable Doubt was considered a pretty good album at that time too…It wasn’t considered a certified classic like it is by most now…just some perspective…[email protected] nowadays would be embarrassed call the music they make rap back then…they’d get laughed or booed of the fuc%!ng stage..

  • gasoline

    not a very convincing argument, honestly it feels like the writer just wanted to start a debate…couldent have said it better than @CnQ ‘he went from making a poetic documentary that received the Palme d’Or at Cannes to writing a Michael Bay screenplay, selling it to Hollywood, and opening on the July 4th weekend.’

  • rece

    I’ve always rocked with IWW over Illmatic. Mind you I was going on 5 when Illmatic came out and going on 7 when IWW dropped. Grew up listening to both albums because my father played them both. But I really got into it once I turned 15 and was able to have a better understanding of what I was listening to. Started with Illmatic for a week and then went on to IWW for a week and IWW just stuck with me.

    at that time I started making beats and I wasn’t emulating those on illmatic i was going for the ones on IWW. The beats advanced, his lyrics advanced, his stories advanced. It feels like If you told NAS straight to his face that Illmatic was his greatest album I’m sure he’d be happy to hear it but at the same time as an artist GROWTH is important so on the other hand he’d be thinking, well damn as hard as I worked to get better on all facets of the game you still believe that’s my best work?

    For me personally as an artist I’d be butthurt if someone always referred to ONE album every time my name was brought up. But anyway IWW > Illmatic . . to my ears.

  • WestLA’s Finest

    1. Illmatic
    2. It Was Written
    3. Hip Hop is Dead
    4. Stillmatic
    5. I Am
    6. Untitled
    7. God’s Son
    8. Street’s Disciple
    9. Nostradamus

    Honorable Mention: Lost Tapes

  • jack johnson

    I think you just wrote this to get a lot of reaction from people because you know nearly every hip hop head loves illmatic

  • Larad

    To me I have to go with Illmatic. At the Time IWW came out I did but it constantlly, but if I have to skip any tracks then it can’t compare to the likes of the greats.Illmatic,Illadelph halflife, Aquimeni, Dirty Money, Word…Life, The Listening, Midnight Marauders…I think we all could go on for days with this. IWW was a great album, IMO not a classic

  • Larad

    To me I have to go with Illmatic. At the Time IWW came out I did bump it constantlly, but if I have to skip any tracks then it can’t compare to the likes of the greats.Illmatic,Illadelph halflife, Aquimeni, Dirty Money, Word…Life, The Listening, Midnight Marauders…I think we all could go on for days with this. IWW was a great album, IMO not a classic

  • Nick

    Let’s get one thing straight here.

    Illmatic is the greatest hip hop album of all time. It flows seamlessly from start to finish, each song contains a crisp and catchy beat that is absolutely destroyed by Nas’ raw, intelligent, and unmatched lyrical ability. Illmatic may be short, but it’s such a consistent album with nearly no flaws that in the end the length doesn’t matter.

    It Was Written is also a classic, but the theme of the album and the approach Nas took in terms of the Mafioso caricature was at that point unoriginal. What It Was Written lacked that Illmatic so undoubtedly provided was originality. No one before Nas made use of such wordplay and metaphors showcased on Illmatic.

    Case in Point – There was no album like Illmatic before it dropped, and there will be no album ever again that displays such a perfect mix of impressive lyricism and top notch production. GOAT.

  • Escobar

    If you throw in Deja Vu & Silent Murder (Jap Bonus Track), it’s 4.5. But Illmatic is and will always be 5 mics.

  • Escobar

    This discussion reminds me of the Original I Am… 2 disc CD. If it weren’t for bootlegging, there would be no Nastradamas, and that would be up in contention for best rap 2 disc CD ever next to All Eyez On Me, Life After Death.

    I Am…The Autobiography original Tracklisting

    Disc 1

    1. Fetus (Belly Button Window)
    2. NY State Of Mind Pt. II
    3. Life Is What You Make It
    4. Small World
    5. Hardest Thing To Do Is Stay Alive
    6. Poppa Was a Playa
    7. Nas Is Like
    8. Blaze A 50
    9. Favor For A Favor
    10. We Will Survive
    11. Some Of Us Have Angels
    12. Project Windows
    13. Day Dreaming, Stay Scheming
    14. Sometimes I Wonder
    15. Undying Love

    Disc 2

    1. After Life (Intro)
    2. Amongst Kings
    3. Life We Chose
    4. Drunk By Myself
    5. Pray
    6. God Love Us
    7. Ghetto Prisoners
    8. Last Words
    9. Family
    10. Come Get Me
    11. Find Your Wealth
    12. U Gotta Love It
    13. Wanna Play Rough
    14. The Rise And Fall
    15. My Worst Enemy

  • TriptonIglesias

    You better write an article about weither The Infamous or Hell on Earth is better, cause that’s a close one. This is just rediculous.

  • blu5ive

    You make a pretty good argument. I’ve debated the same thing before (IWW vs. Illmatic). But at the end of the day, that joint with Dre killed IWW’s chance at being a 5 mic classic. Take that one record off and the argument is more valid. Everyone skips that track. There is no skipping tracks in Illmatic.