Album covers analysed: Nas, Illmatic

Published: 22nd Jun, 2009

Aww, who’s that little cutie?

illmatic

Say what you like about Eminem, but in 8 Mile, he taught us that if you embarrass yourself first, no one will ever be able to embarrass you again. It was a clever move, turning his rap attack on its head, making that other guy look like a chump. That’s why we always do something enormously humiliating first thing in the morning, just to make sure that the day can’t get any worse. We might deliberately trip up at the bus stop, or accidentally (on purpose) walk back from the office toilets completely naked. It works. So good for Eminem. Good for him. But, actually, he wasn’t the first rapper to gently mock himself, back in the early 90s a young rapper called Nasty Nas unlocked a painfully humiliating box of childhood snapshots, and hung them on a washing line for everyone to see. By which we mean he put a picture of himself as a child of the cover of his amazing Illmatic album. Look at him, staring out at you, a seven year old child, he looks lonely and frightened. And yet, when you hear him rapping as an adult he’s street tough. What a glorious juxtaposition! It made for a much better cover than the original idea, which was to have the rapper wrestling Jesus. Here’s a track from the album…

Josh Burt
About the author:
Josh has been a writer and journalist for the best part of twenty years and has written for modern staples like FHM and Cosmopolitan and The Daily Telegraph and The Sun. He has also written a small handful of so-so books that you can still buy.

4 Responses to Album covers analysed: Nas, Illmatic

  1. MC NAUGHTY B says:

    This very cover was the subject of a thoroughly unpleasant BEEF between nas, raekwon and the late, great biggie. So well done for bringing that up again interestment. I hope you’re proud of yourself.

  2. Sam says:

    I love how needlessly aggressive the aforementioned comment is. can a beef over an album cover be something fierce, let alone important?

  3. MC NAUGHTY B says:

    As a matter of fact “Sam” (if that really is your name) people probably DIE over album cover beef almost every day. And who are you to judge the aggressiveness of my comment? You almost embarrassed me in front of the whole internet. Which is BILLIONS of people. Please don’t do that again.

  4. Slim T says:

    Damn Naughty, you do take this stuff seriously, don’t you?

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