2014 marked the 20th anniversary of what is arguably the greatest hip-hop record of all time, Nas' landmark debut, Illmatic. While we wait for a new Nas record in 2015, Illmatic is still a heavy topic of conversation thanks to it's subject matter of life in the projects and a verbal documentary of violence, drugs, and gang life around you. Like an episode of The Wire, Illmatic's subject lines still have not changed. As we saw last year with the grand jury decisions in the cases of Eric Garner and Michael Brown to not indict the police officers who took the lives of African-American men in broad daylight, the words Nas released on his debut echoed just as powerful 20 plus years later.
In 2009, the non-fiction book Born to Use Mics, edited by Michael Eric Dyson and Sohail Daulatzai featured contributions from sociologists, historians, and professors like Adilifu Nama, Guthrie P. Ramsey Jr., James Peterson, Marc Lamont Hill, Mark Anthony Neal, Imani Perry, Kyra Gaunt, Eddie S. Glaude, and even Common, to explain the cultural significance of Illmatic and who it reflects the black community to this day. The book explores race, gender, class division, by dissecting Nas' lyrics and themes and explaining them in full force and shows how and why the rapper is discussing what he is. Born to Use Mics is an eye opening book to a subject matter that is still being discussed and will give insight to anyone who needs education.