11 December, 2012@3:00 pm
If they stop putting [out] records, and they don’t put nothing on the radio and they say, ‘f*ck rap,’ and drop me… I’ll still be rhyming.”
– Nas, quoted in Columbia’s Illmatic press release (1994)
From the label just named one of the “10 Best Record Labels of 2012” by FACT Magazine and the crew who brought the world Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx “Purple Tape Cassette Box,” it’s time for another hip-hop celebration.
This time they have set their sights on arguably the most defining hip-hop album of the ‘90s: Nas’ 1994 debut, Illmatic. With the deluxe, premium packaging that Boston-based Get on Down is known for, including an extended-length cherry-wood box, a 48-page hard-cover book and reproductions of unique promotional items from the original 1994 marketing campaign, this is another set you don’t want to sleep on.
Nas Illmatic Deluxe “Gold Edition” CD set features:
· “24k Audiophile Gold Disc” CD with re-mastered audio and actual 24-karat gold embedded in the CD, housed in a “Cherrywood Trophy Box” with gold plaque [limited to 2,000 CD sets]
· 48-page full-color, hard-cover book including liner notes from The Source founder Jon Schecter, extended artwork and full album lyrics
· Black 2-piece outer box with 1994 “Nas” red-on-white logo sticker [www.GetOnDown.com orders only]
· Reproduction of 1994 Illmatic press release, with two 8 x 10 glossy promo photos from Illmatic PR campaign [www.GetOnDown.com orders only]
· Rare 1994 promotional poster with full album lyrics printed on back [www.GetOnDown.com orders only]
In 1994, hip-hop was going through an at-times painful growth spurt. Since N.W.A.’s and Ice-T’s ascent in the late ‘80s, the rap game was no longer owned by the East Coast. After the worldwide popularity of Dr. Dre’s The Chronic in 1992, things were looking even worse for hip-hop’s hometown. The East Coast / West Coast feud that would later indirectly claim the lives of Biggie and Pac was still in its infancy, but New York needed a shot in the arm.
Black Moon hit in the fall of 1993 with Enta Da Stage and Wu-Tang Clan closed out that year with their game-changing debut Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), so the stage was set. In all honesty, the hype behind young Queensbridge native Nasir “Nas” Jones had been in full swing since before those two landmark albums, thanks to Columbia Records’ promo machine.
From his earliest appearance on Main Source’s “Live at the BBQ,” to his own accomplished debut “Half Time” (as Nasty Nas, on the Zebrahead soundtrack in late 1992), it was clear that this kid was something special. In fact, the pressure on him must have been overwhelming at times. April 19, 1994 couldn’t have come soon enough.
And as soon as the first lines of “N.Y. State of Mind” kick in, bolstered by perhaps DJ Premier’s darkest beat of all time, the entire East Coast breathed a collective sigh of relief. God’s Son had arrived. Backed by an absolute all-star cast of New York’s top-shelf producers – Premier, Pete Rock, Large Professor, Q-Tip and a youngster named L.E.S. – the album never lets up. Serious to a fault, and lyrically dense to an extent that has possibly never been matched, the 20-year old Nas stood on the shoulders of his predecessors and proudly proclaimed, “Don’t fuck with the East… we are BACK.”
The story from there is the stuff of legend, a legend that continues to this day, almost two decades and multiple platinum platters later. Illmatic itself boasted a hefty number of number of singles, five, especially considering that the original program ran nine full vocal tracks (excepting the dark intro, “The Genesis”). That’s how densely packed it was.
The album was actually a slow-burn, which might surprise fans that have come to its genius more recently. Despite an unheard-of “5 Mics” in The Source – despite an unwritten rule of never awarding classic status to debuts – it didn’t go gold until early 1996, and didn’t hit platinum status until late 2001. But when you dive deeper that shouldn’t be a shock: like Black Moon and Wu-Tang, it was a dark, hard record, made for heads in New York, not teeny-boppers in Des Moines. There were no dance beats, no crossover love songs. Just boom-bap and rhymes, skills and heart.
From “Life’s A Bitch” (with the album’s only true guest MC, AZ, along with a trumpet solo by Nas’ jazzman father, Olu Dara) to “It Ain’t Hard To Tell,” the album strings you along, brings you through ups and downs, and into the dark corners of NYC. The same corners brought to the world in Melle Mel’s “The Message,” and fleshed out in the late ‘80s by Nas’ lyrical idols Rakim and Kool G Rap.
“My duration’s infinite, moneywise or physiology.
Poetry, that’s a part of me, retardedly bop.
I drop the ancient manifested hip-hop, straight off the block.”
- Nas, “Memory Lane (Sittin’ In Da Park)”
Enjoyed by countless hip-hop heads to this day and considered by many to be a “Top 10 Greatest” in the canon of hip-hop full-lengths, Get on Down’s Illmatic “Gold Disc” set is a perfect way to revisit the record that helped bring the East Coast rap back to its homeland. With the deluxe features and unique “trophy shelf” packaging, it will sit among your other coveted possessions for decades to come.
Get On Down is an acclaimed Boston-based record label and premium online boutique (www.GetOnDown.com), offering an eclectic array of products, from deluxe music reissues on vinyl and CD to apparel and pop culture artifacts. Established in 2010, Get On Down’s record label boasts over 75 titles in its ever-expanding catalog.
The GetOnDown.com online boutique was launched in 2012 and operates with a strong “anti-big-box store” aesthetic, dedicated to carefully curating a premium product mix for independent-minded customers who span the globe. GetOnDown.com features items from the Get On Down label along with unique non-label offerings, including apparel, DVDs, pop culture artifacts and more.
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