20 Best Lyrics on Nas’ ‘Illmatic’


‘Illmatic,’ the 1994 platinum-selling album by Nas, is the artist’s best album and arguably the greatest rap album ever. Not only has it been critically acclaimed, but it reached #2 on the “Billboard” R&B/Hip-Hop chart and resided there for 28 weeks. It’s even been given a 20th-anniversary edition as a reissue. As a work, the iconic album succeeds in part because it’s packed with lyrics, not only about ​Nas’ superior skills but also about life, crime, and vitamins. “Billboard” magazine calls it “a vivid, emotive look into life as a youngster in the streets of Queensbridge.” Here are the best lyrics on ‘Illmatic.’

‘N.Y. State of Mind’

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Lyric: “Life is parallel to Hell but I must maintain and be prosperous, though we live dangerous.”

‘The World Is Yours’

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Lyric: “I’m the young city bandit, hold myself down singlehanded. For murder raps, I kick my thoughts alone, get remanded. Born alone, die alone, no crew to keep my crown or throne.”


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Lyric: “I rap in front of more ni–as than in the slave ships”

‘Life’s a B-tch’

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Lyric: “Time is illmatic, keep static like wool fabric. Pack a 4-matic to crack your whole cabbage”

‘Memory Lane’

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Lyric: “My intellect prevails from a hanging cross with nails. I reinforce the frail, with lyrics that’s real. Word to Christ, a disciple of streets, trifle on beats. I decipher prophecies through a mic and say peace.”

‘It Ain’t Hard to Tell’


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Lyric: “I drank Moet with Medusa, gave her shotguns in hell. From the spliff that I lift and inhale, it ain’t hard to tell.”

‘One Love’

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Lyric: “Sometimes I sit back with a Buddha sack. Mind’s in another world thinking how can we exist through the facts.”

‘One Love’

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Lyric: “Then I rose, wiping the blunt’s ash from my clothes. Then froze only to blow the herb smoke through my nose.”

‘N.Y. State of Mind’

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Lyric: “I’m taking rappers to a new plateau, through rap slow. My rhymin’ is a vitamin held without a capsule.”


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Lyric: “Nas is a rebel of the street corner, pulling a Tec out the dresser. Police got me under pressure.”

‘N.Y. State of Mind’

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Lyric: “It drops deep as it does in my breath. I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death. Beyond the walls of intelligence, life is defined. I think of crime when I’m in a New York state of mind.”


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Lyric: “Straight up sh-t is real and any day could be your last in the jungle. Get murdered on the humble, guns’ll blast, ni–as tumble.”


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Lyric: “Somehow the rap game reminds me of the crack game/Used to sport Bally’s and Gazelle’s with black frames/Now I’m into fat chains, sex and tecs/Fly new chicks and new kicks, Heine’s and Beck’s”


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Lyric: ”You couldn’t catch me in the streets without a ton of reefer. That’s like Malcolm X catching the Jungle Fever.”

‘One Love’

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Lyric: “So stay civilized, time flies. Though incarcerated your mind dies, I hate it when your moms cries. It kinda makes me want to murder, for real a/I even got a mask and gloves to bust slugs but one love”

‘The World Is Yours’

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Lyric: “I’m out for Presidents to represent me.”

‘Memory Lane (Sittin’ in da Park)’

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Lyric: “True in the game, as long as blood is blue in my veins. I pour my Heineken brew to my deceased crew on memory lane.”

‘Memory Lane (Sittin’ in da Park)’

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Lyric: “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. Your telephone-blown, Black, stitches or fat shoelaces.”

‘N.Y. State of Mind’

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Lyric: “Inhale deep like the words of my breath. I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death. I lay puzzle as I backtrack to earlier times. Nothing’s equivalent, to the New York State of Mind.”

‘Life’s a B-tch’


Lyric: “I switched my motto—instead of saying f-ck tomorrow, that buck that bought a bottle could’ve struck the lotto”

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