Album covers analysed: Nas, Illmatic
Aww, who’s that little cutie?
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…