Nas-Illmatic-original-cassette

I’ve never been good at acknowledging the passing of time. We’ve never celebrated an anniversary here at MissInfo.TV. I’ve never felt comfortable doing week-long, self-congratulatory birthday tours. I have no idea how long I’ve worked at Hot 97. And I’m terrible at corroborating albums and release years. Is it a fear of change or a symptom of a disorganized mind? Yes, yup. But as a result, yesterday can feel like ancient history, and what I felt 20 years ago… is a room right next door.

Continue reading after the jump…

Maybe that’s why I don’t really listen to Illmatic that often, even though it’s one of my favorite albums of all time. And why the past few weeks of incredible retrospectives and editorials for this Illmatic 20th anniversary have left me feeling overwhelmed. Because I feel sucked right back to 1994… Chicago girl in New York City, interning at The Source, mentored (and sheltered) by the best editors I’d ever have (Reginald C. Dennis, Jon Shecter, James Bernard, and later Carter Harris).

I remember staying up until 3am to catch this kid named Rapper Nas on the Stretch and Bobbito show, and hearing how everyone was buzzing about “Halftime” and “Live at the BBQ.” I remember them giving me this hand-labeled dubbed cassette tape of Illmatic, assigning me to review it, and being completely blown away from the very first listen.

But now I can also grasp the enormity of that moment, realizing that if I was who I am now, I might have been frozen in self-doubt by what was in front of me then. I know that’s a mouthful. But basically… I was a nobody, a risky choice, who got the opportunity to be a part of hip-hop’s introduction to a work of art that will outlive us. I’m humbled by that, and thankful that I didn’t fuck up.

I revisited Illmatic and picked some of my favorite moments for Complex and Hennessy, and spoke about the anniversary with Andrea Duncan-Mao for Fuse‘s three-part series, Eddie Huang for his upcoming MSG podcast, and the folks at NPR for their upcoming special.

Each time, I mention how my original review makes me cringe because of the dated slang and style (I’m sure I’ll feel the same way about this post in a few years). But I also realize that I miss “Shortie”… she was unjaded, awkward, an alien and a sponge…and that I can find her every time I listen to Illmatic.

– Miss Info, fka Shortie

Read the original 5-mic Illmatic review below (click here to enlarge)…


 
Click the next page for Miss Info, Mikey Fresh and Andy B.’s favorite Illmatic moments…

FAVORITE VERSE
Miss Info: “Memory Lane”

“My window faces shootouts, drug overdoses.
Live amongst no roses, only the drama, for real.
A nickel-plate is my fate, my medicine is the ganja.
Here’s my basis my razor embraces, many faces,
You’re telephone-blown, Black,
Stitches or fat shoelaces.”

I love that Nas acknowledges his place, in the window. He’s doomed, he’s dulling the pain, but he’s aware.
And that last part is the best because it is so specific to New York City in 1994. I remember kids carrying razor blades in their mouth, spitting them out in a crowded club with a puff of air, slicing another kid’s face from ear to the corner of the mouth…

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