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Nas' Illmatic (33 1/3 series) Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (April 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826429076
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826429070
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 4.7 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The album in question, Illmatic, is an inarguable choice...from the cover art (the portrait of the artist as a very youngman), to the future-forward evolution of the music form it led, to thetimeless high quality multi-syllabic rhyming, weaving complicatedrhythms around those still-borrowed-from beats — author MatthewGasteier hit it square."
-KEXP, Seattle


"The on-the-ground reportage is way more compelling than the awkward. abstract discussion of Nas' lyrics." The Wire (Derek Walmsley)

"The on-the-ground reportage is way more compelling than the awkward. abstract discussion of Nas' lyrics." The Wire (Sanford Lakoff)

About the Author

Matthew Gasteier covers hip-hop for the Boston Phoenix and several other publications.

More About the Author

Matthew Gasteier is the creator of the popular blog, fupenguin.com, which is the basis for this book. He lives in Watertown, Massachusetts. Some of his best friends are penguins.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A. Covert on May 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
Though this book looks at each track of Illmatic on a musical level, this book shines when it comes to retelling the circumstances under which the album was created. Back stories--how Nas got on the infamous "Live at the BBQ", or deconstructions of how numerous contradictions, such as life and death, affected Nas growing up and how they manifest themselves in Illmatic--are at the heart of this book, providing a fresh angle to this oft-discussed album.

Gasteier is pretty well versed in Nas' body of work, as well the hip-hop of that era, able to identify not just Nas' influences, but also how this album would go on to affect the rest of his output.

While academic in tone, the book avoids getting too heavy handed with sociological jargon, but avoids overly sensationalizing/romanticizing Nas' mythology in the Queensbridge projects. Overall, it's a really interesting read, and a good hip hop contribution to the 33 1/3 series that should spark interest all music fans and not just hip hop heads.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By M. Krolak on May 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
It's no secret that Illmatic is one of the most revered hip-hop records of all time, but what makes this book so fascinating is the way it explains its genesis to put the record into context -- both of its own time, and today. Gasteier details how this album affected hip-hop, and how hip-hop's evolving landscape (especially as it pertains to race in America) affected the album.

The backstories surrounding the creation of the tracks, as well as Nas' career are a great peek at stuff most listeners never get to see...such as songs forming like Voltron from demos, tracks being re-laid and remixed at the last minute. A must read for fans of the record and/or hip-hop.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Fanon C. Wilkins on February 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
Just picked this book up and I loved the effort. The author appears to be sincere and passionate about Illmatic. The opening chapter on his whiteness and outsider status was a bit of a yawn, but his analysis of some of the albums material was very insightful. I also love how he gets at explaining the duality, paradox and contradiction of Nas's work and how this sits at the heart of great art--particularly Illmatic. However, the author makes a few mistakes that are worth noting, although they do not detract from the main arguments in the book. On page 3 he footnotes Kalefah Sanneh as writing Why White Kids Love Hip-Hop and that book was actually written by Bakari Kitwana. On page 46 he consistently refers to Selwyn Seyfu Hinds as a her, when he is a man--only the former Editor and Chief of the Source magazine and author of a couple of books on Hip-Hop. That said, this book belongs to be read alongside Born To Use Mics. Peace,
Fanon Che Wilkins
Kyoto, Japan
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Matthew Gasteier's Illmatic is a great book that gets off to a very shaky start. After a tiresomely self-referential introduction, in which Gasteier drones on and on about how the book "isn't about him," apologizes for his whiteness (the first sentence: "I am white"), and openly declares "I am not hip-hop," Gasteier proceeds to get a few basic but crucial facts wrong, severely compromising his credibility.

Published in 2009, Gasteier admits to have only been seriously listening to hip-hop for a decade. Perhaps a few years intervened between the book's writing and its publishing, but at best, it would seem that Gasteier was not around to appreciate Illmatic within the context of the time it was released, and that seriously calls into question whether or not he should be the one writing this book. Gasteier further exposes himself as a johnny-come-lately to hip-hop in Chapter 1 by making the absurd statement that "the traditional style of gritty drums and hard hitting samples" was already "on its way out" in 1984 when Run DMC burst on the scene. Really? It hadn't even arrived yet! Run DMC was the first new-school group. Prior to them, old-school artists rapped over disco tracks--the sampler hadn't even been invented! In fact, Run DMC rapped over drum machines and live instrumentation on their debut and second album; "gritty drums and hard-hitting samples" wouldn't debut until the introduction of the SP-12 sampling drum machine (it came out in 1985 but its sound didn't begin to dominate hip-hop for another couple of years, by which time its successor the SP-1200 and competitor the Akai MPC-60 had established the sound Gasteier mistakenly believes was "on its way out").

This is on Page 11, and already Gasteier has blown his cover.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kyle Powell on January 7, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Yo, first off if you aren't hip to the hip hop 33 1/3 releases IT'S TIME TO GET WITH THE PROGRAM!! This is the second hip hop book I have read in the 33 1/3 series (the first being Beastie Boys Paul's Boutique) and I must say this is a must read for any Nas fan. I love the fact the author is able to pack so much detail about the creation of Nas' classic album Illmatic into one small book. Literally you can read this book in one bathroom session. Okay, maybe not one bathroom session, but definintely in one day. You got interviews from all the major players behind the creation of this album (Q Tip, Premo, Serch, etc.) except one major person.....Large Pro WTF??? I guess dude didn't want to share his experience with the author of this book. That's too bad, because most hip hop heads would have liked to find out more about their studio sessions. HIP HOP!
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