Illmatic is the greatest album of all time to people (it’s really The Cold Vein). BUT, for the longest time I had no real way to understand why. He rhymed well on it and all that good stuff but nothing so extraordinary that stood out statistically. Nas the narrator is one of the most impressive rap writers ever. Nobody can describe their immediate surroundings like Nas (“suede timbs on my feet makes my cypher complete”). He’s a beautiful writer when he’s in this mode.
The other day I did an analysis of pronoun usage in rap songs. Nas’ Illmatic was high on the list. Telling stories how Nas did on Illmatic is what fans love about him. When he stopped doing this, he started making less quality music. So, maybe on Illmatic he was using words like “I”, “me”, “myself” etc. more? The data: