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In the midst of Illmatic‘s 20th anniversary celebrations, including last night’s epic performance with Q-Tip and The Roots on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Nas took the time to speak with BBC Radio 1’s Zane Lowe about his iconic debut album.

In an open and reflective interview, the veteran MC discussed how his surroundings shaped the record (“New York wrote the album, Queensbridge specifically”), working with heavyweight producers like DJ Premier, Q-Tip, Pete Rock and Large Professor, and whether he had an inclination of the impact Illmatic would have on hip-hop and music as a whole.

Yes, at some points in the past I said I didn’t know. I’m sure I didn’t know one hundred percent. But I did know that somebody somewhere would feel like it was a masterpiece.

Look out for Nas’ deluxe edition Illmatic XX reissue dropping April 15.

Listen to the interview after the jump…

Related: Nas, Q-Tip & The Roots Perform on ‘The Tonight Show’