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Eminem Reflects on the Impact of Nas’ ‘Illmatic’: “Had Me in A Slump”

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Eminem recently expressed his admiration for Nas’s iconic album “Illmatic,” which has long been hailed as one of the most critically acclaimed records in Hip Hop history.

In an interview with the New York Times, the Detroit legend recalled his initial reaction to “Illmatic” when he first heard it. According to Em, he already had respect for Nas due to his memorable verse on “Live at the Barbeque” with Main Source, but it was the perfect score of five mics given by The Source magazine that piqued his curiosity.

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“I remember The Source gave ‘Illmatic’ five mics,”  Em said. “I already knew I liked Nas from ‘Live at the Barbeque’ with Main Source, because his verse on that is one of the most classic verses in Hip Hop of all time. But I was, like, ‘Five mics, though? Let me see what this is.’

As he listened to the album, Eminem was captivated by Nas’s lyrical prowess and ability to weave in and out of rhyme schemes. 

“And when I put it on, ‘And be prosperous/though we live dangerous/Cops could just arrest me/Blamin’ us/We’re held like hostages.’ He was going in and outside of the rhyme scheme, internal rhymes. That album had me in a slump, too. I know the album front to back.”

Eminem previously opened up about the profound impact of Nas’s 1994 debut album during a 2020 interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe. The “Mom’s Spaghetti” creator praised the album’s timeless status and its significant influence on the genre.

Acknowledging the album’s status as a classic, Eminem stated, “It’s got to be up at the top.” He emphasized how ‘Illmatic’ served as a pivotal learning experience for him as an artist, showcasing different flow patterns and schemes that sparked his creativity.

“It taught me different flow patterns, different schemes you can do, and then when you start finding your own that you feel like haven’t been done yet, that’s when it becomes fun.”

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Eminem singled out the track “Halftime” as particularly impressive, praising Nas’s intricate rhyme schemes that have remained unmatched in the rap world. He marveled at Nas’s ability to rhyme entire sentences seamlessly, leaving a lasting impact on his own approach to rapping.

“One of the reasons that I picked ‘Halftime’ is because there’s some rhyme schemes on there that most rappers to this day probably can’t do,” he said. “And that’s one of the things that has made Nas so great over his career.”

Meanwhile, Nas just dropped “Magic 2,” his third album in three years. 

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