Cut the cake, grab the balloons and pop the champagne because Nas is ready to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his classic debut album in a very big way.
Not only is the Queens, New York, rapper getting set to release a special double-disc version of the LP, titled Illmatic XX, but he is also planning to hit the road and release a new documentary to mark the occasion.
“With Illmatic, I didn’t think about it. I just did it,” Nas said in a statement that appeared on NasirJones.com. “I believe everybody has good instincts. Now I’m a man from the past and I’m supremely grateful.”
Nas plans to perform the 10-track album front-to-back this spring at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and at this year’s Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, as well as other unannounced tour dates.
According to iTunes, Illmatic XX is expected to drop on April 15 — four days ahead of the album’s anniversary date on April 19. The 20-track re-release will feature remastered versions of the album’s original 10 tracks, giving new life to favorites like “It Ain’t Hard to Tell” and “N.Y. State of Mind.” The second disc will house demos, radio freestyles and remixes like the one Q-Tip did for “The World is Yours” shortly after the album was released in 1994.
There is also an upcoming film documentary “Time is Illmatic,” which takes its title from a lyric on Nas’ “Life’s a Bitch.” The film will tell the story of how Illmatic was made, released and become one of the most celebrated albums of the last two decades.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a 1990s or early 2000s rapper who wasn’t inspired by Nas’ seminal work. Jay-Z has alluded to Nas’ influence over him a number of times, and on 2009’s “A Star is Born,” he saluted his one-time rap foe. “I had the Illmatic on bootleg/ That sh– was so ahead, thought we all was dead,” he raps.
Nas has released 10 solo studio albums that have all gone platinum or gold, plus a number of group LPs and compilations. He credits it all to his first shot. “There’s a Nigerian proverb ‘What is past is prologue.’ I’m here today because of Illmatic,” Nas said.