In 1994, Nasir Jones, who is now known simply as Nas, was spewing street poetry in a genre-defining production as Nasty Nas on his classic debut album Illmatic. Nas recently decided to remix the entire Illmatic album with the help of an orchestra.
Nas began investing in media and content company Mass Appeal in 2013 and recently did what most artists only dream of — put a recording studio in the office. Peter Bittenbender, the CEO of Mass Appeal told Billboard the first thing the company did in the studio was to remix one of the greatest albums in hip hop history.
“Recently, we brought it back and they mixed the full Illmatic [album] with the orchestra guy back in the studio,” Bittenbender said, referencing Nas’ March 2014 performance with the National Symphony Orchestra at The Kennedy Center concert hall to commemorate Illmatic‘s 20th anniversary. Bittenbender says the Illmatic songs were remixed for a potential Mass Appeal concert documentary the company shot of the anniversary concert. “We don’t know when to put it out but we had to capture this moment.”
When the album was first released in 1994, it attracted immense critical praise, becoming the first album to receive the classic five-mic rating from the most venerable hip hop news publication of the time, The Source. Since then, the album has been remixed by contemporary rappers, has been made the subject of an in-depth documentary, and was listed as one of the 500 greatest albums by Rolling Stone.
Although Nas rapping classic Illmatic lyrics over a plush orchestra may not be released as an album, the 23-year rap veteran is working on new music to release. The reclusive star said fans can “for sure” expect his long-awaited 11th solo album later this year. Although Nas was heard rapping about how his album was completed on DJ Khaled’s song Nas Album Done from last summer, the Queensbridge MC said the album “is not done till it hits the streets.”
BET is also producing a bio-series, Street Dreams, based on Nas’ life. There is currently no release date and Nas jokingly admits in the interview he has had trouble finding an actor to play him in the series. He has also provided original music to narrate the first season of Netflix’s The Get Down series. While he did not announce a second season of the show, he did say all future recording he will do for it will be done in the new Mass Appeal recording studio.
If you can’t wait for Nas to release the pristine footage of his Illmatic 20th anniversary concert, there are plenty of grainy, amateur shot videos of the show floating around YouTube.