At first, hearing about Elzhi doing a tribute of Nas‘s Illmatic, I was dubious about the project. How can one do a reworking of what was, and still is, a perfect album? Illmatic was released the spring of 1994, when Nas was only twenty years old. 1994 was the year we received Notorious B.I.G.‘s Ready to Die, Gang Starr‘s Hard to Earn, Pete Rock & CL Smooth‘s Main Ingredient, Jeru the Damaja‘s The Sun Rises in the East, Digable Planet‘s Blowout Comb, Keith Murray‘s The Most Beautifullest Thing in the World, Craig Mack‘s Flavor in Ya Ear, Lords of the Underground, Organized Konfusion, to name a few. East Coast rap was alive and thriving. It hadn’t started drinking gin ‘n juice nor partying hard with Puffy and friends, as Jeru the Damaja rapped on “One Day.”
Elzhi has breathed more life into Illmatic with his tribute Elmatic, and in doing so, he has pushed himself lyrically and sonically, translating Nas‘s storytelling into stories of now, confined to Detroit streets and realism. Not taking anything away from the original, but magnifying musical arrangements by bringing live instrumentation. Elmatic is pure labour of love, produced entirely by funk fusion band Will Sessions, who have worked with Black Milk, Mayer Hawthorne, Slum Village, and Guilty Simpson. The album has appearances by MC Royce da 5’9, Stokely Williams from Mint Condition, and also Pete Rock, who was one of the original producers of Illmatic alongside DJ Premier, Large Professor, Q-Tip, and L.E.S. All I can say, “It’s Elmatic, shout outs to the homey, nah son, words from the wise one, make both your eyes run.” I often revisit Illmatic, and now I can include Elmatic to extend my Illmatic-isms. Get your Free Download right now! You’ll have it on heavy rotation!
And check out the video for “Half Time.”