From the album Illmatic to the Grammy award-winning body of work King’s Disease, lyricist Nas has been delivering poignant bars for over two decades and he recently received a major honor for his contributions to the realm of music. The Queens native’s debut album has been added to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry.
Nas—whose real name is Nasir Jones—has continually used his artistry as a vessel to lyrically paint vivid imagery of what it’s like to come of age in an inner-city New York neighborhood and the perils often faced by the Black community. Jones’ work intertwines socially conscious and culturally relevant elements. The Library of Congress announced it would add his 1994 debut album Illmatic to the National Recording Registry. The album—which gave listeners a peek into Queensbridge Houses—had a producer lineup that included Q-Tip, DJ Premier, Pete Rock and Large Professor and was released under Columbia Records.
“Critics quickly extoled it for its rhythmic originality and its realistic yet fresh take on life in the Queensbridge projects,” read a statement from the Library of Congress. “Characterized by the masterful use of multi-syllabic and internal rhyme, surprising line breaks and rhythmic complexity, the album’s technique has been widely copied and proven broadly influential. The album featured, along with Nas’ father Olu Dara, the sample-soaked production of a set of deeply talented and experienced producers including Q-Tip, Large Professor, Pete Rock, L.E.S. and DJ Premier. The sound they forged features gritty drums, hazy vinyl samples and snatches of jazz and ‘70s R&B. It has been described as the sound of a kid in Queensbridge ransacking his parents’ record collection. While the album pulls no punches about the danger, struggle and grit of Queensbridge, Nas recalls it as a musically rich environment that produced many significant rappers.”
Other notable selections for the most recent National Recording Registry class include Louis Armstrong’s song “When the Saints Go Marching In,” the album Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues, Albertina Walker and the Caravans’ single “Lord, Keep Me Day by Day,” Labelle’s 1974 single “Lady Marmalade,” Kool & the Gang’s song “Celebration,” and Janet Jackson’s 1989 album Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814.
News about Nas’ milestone comes weeks after he won his first Grammy for Best Rap Album.