#ILLmaticXX Anniversary: 20 Years In Review

IllmaticXX cover art

IllmaticXX cover art


The Genesis

Queensbridge Houses are the largest housing projects on the North American continent.  It sits along the East River just north of the Queensborough (59th Street) Bridge that connects Manhattan to Queens.  Looking down from the bridge on the 96-unit, six-story project rooftops looks like a labyrinth of Y- shaped buildings that span across a small landscape.  The projects, clothed with weathered brick, gleam in the sky’s foreground like peculiar urban pillars that are definitive reminders of inner city blight.

Queensbridge Houses

Queensbridge Houses

These same projects that raised numerous stars like MC Shan, Roxanne Shante’, Marly Marl, Craig G, Metta World Peace and Mobb Deep, also raised one of Hip Hop’s most celebrated MCs.  Nas.  When MC Shan wrote his battle lyrics during The Bridge Wars against KRS-One, he was unwittingly prophetic when he said this about Queensbridge MCs.

This is the place where stars are born

And we are only the ones that can’t be worn out

– MC Shan, The Bridge, 1985

On April 19, 1994, Hip Hop was delivered a gift.  Unwrapped of its magnetic coated, plastic film, was a cassette tape that changed the course of East Coast Hip Hop.  Illmatic, Nas’ debut album, released by Columbia Records, sold an underwhelming 59,000 copies in its first week.  With barely a peep of recognition outside of the East Coast upon its release, Illmatic managed to become one of the most important albums in Hip Hop history.

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© Copyright Eddie Savoy Bailey III, 2014

Written by: Eddie Bailey of The Savoy Media Group

Twitter @SavoyMediaGroup

Email: [email protected]

Blog: writingbattleraphistory.wordpress.com




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