Nas is credited for dropping arguably the best debut album in hip-hop history with Illmatic. After his classic 1994 release, the Queensbridge storyteller followed up with five more platinum solo albums in a ten-year span, pioneering a run that only Jay Z, Kanye West and Snoop Dogg have matched as the only rappers to claim such an impressive consistent stint, with 'Ye recently joining the ranks after the platinum success of Yeezus.

With Illmatic turning twenty this April, XXL has compiled a guide to Nas’ first decade of his career, from his era-defining debut to 2002's God’s Son. Since then, Nas has dropped four albums, and his latest offering, Life Is Good, was the most recent XXL-rated album by an artist not named Kendrick Lamar (and, like K. Dot this year, he's been shut out of the Grammys on each occasion).

While many debate the quality of the street poet’s projects, the Street Dreams rapper still boasts one of the most successful debut decades in hip-hop history. It ain’t hard to tell. Christian Bonoan

Release Date: April 19, 1994
First Week Sales: 59,000
Major Singles (Billboard Hot 100 peak): "Halftime"; "It Ain't Hard to Tell" (91); "Life's A Bitch"; "The World Is Yours"; "One Love"
Platinum Certification Date: December 11, 2001
XXL Rating: XXL
Album Producers: DJ Premier, Large Professor, L.E.S., Pete Rock, Q-Tip, MC Serch
Biggest Rap Album Competitor:  The Notorious B.I.G., Ready To Die; OutKast, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik; Beastie Boys, Ill Communication
Grammy Nominations: N/A
Memorable Remixes/Feature Verses:
"Live At The Barbecue," Main Source featuring Nas, Breaking Atoms (1991); "Back To The Grill," MC Serch, Return Of The Product (1992)
Top News Headlines:
 Nas Releases Illmatic In Hopes Of Raising Funds For Film School
Nas’ Daughter Destiny Is Born

Album: It Was Written
Release Date: July 2, 1996
First Week Sales: 268,000
Major Singles (Billboard Hot 100 peak): “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)" (53); "Street Dreams" (22); "The Message"
Platinum Certification Date: September 6, 1996
Album Producers: DJ Premier, Dr. Dre, Havoc, L.E.S., Live Squad, Trackmasters
Biggest Rap Album Competitor:  Tupac, All Eyez On Me; Jay Z, Reasonable Doubt; The Fugees, The Score
Grammy Nominations: 1997, Best Rap Solo Performance, "If I Ruled the World"
Memorable Remixes/Feature Verses: 
"Eye For An Eye," Mobb Deep featuring Nas and Raekwon, The Infamous (1995); "Verbal Intercourse," Raekwon featuring Ghostface Killah and Nas, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... (1995); "Fast Life," Kool G Rap featuring Nas, 4, 5, 6; "If I Ruled The World (Remix)" featuring R. Kelly
Rap Beefs: Cormega after firing him from The Firm, Tupac because of a line from "The Message," originally aimed at The Notorious B.I.G., which produced 'Pac's song "Against All Odds"
Top News Headlines:
 Nas Debuts With AZ, Foxy Brown, Cormega as The Firm

AlbumI Am...
Release Date: April 6, 1999
First Week Sales: 470,000
Major Singles (Billboard Hot 100 peak): Nas Is Like..." (86); "Hate Me Now" (62)
Platinum Certification Date: May 5, 1999
XXL Rating: XL
Album Producers: L.E.S., DJ Premier, Trackmasters, Timbaland, Alvin West, Dame Grease, Nashiem Myrick, Carlos "Six July" Broady, D-Moet, Pretty Boy, Jamal Edgerten
Biggest Rap Album Competitor:  Eminem, Slim Shady LP; The Roots, Things Fall Apart
Grammy Nominations: 2000, Best Rap Album, I Am
Rap Beefs: Jay Z, "We Will Survive"; Puffy over the "Hate Me Now" video
Top News Headlines: Nas’ Plan To Release A Double Album Was Ruined By Bootlegging
Nas Releases “Hate Me Now” Music Video Displaying Him Crucified
Nas Fires Manager Steve Stoute To Focus On His Ill Will Records Imprint
Nas Stars In Belly (1998)

Release Date: November 23, 1999
First Week Sales: 232,000
Major Singles (Billboard Hot 100 peak): "Nastradamus" (86); “You Owe Me” (59)
Platinum Certification Date: December 22, 1999
XXL Rating: XL
Album Producers: Dame Grease, Havoc, L.E.S., Rich Nice, DJ Premier, Timbaland
Biggest Rap Album Competitor:  Dr. Dre, 2001; Jay Z, Vol. 3... The Life & Times of S. Carter; The Roots, Things Fall Apart; DMX, ...And Then There Was X
Grammy Nominations: 2000, Best Rap Album, I Am
Top News Headlines: Nas’ Mother Reveals She Has Breast Cancer
Nas Successfully Releases Two Albums Within A Six Month Span

Release Date: December 18, 2001
First Week Sales: 342,000
Major Singles (Billboard Hot 100 peak): “Rule” (N/A); “Got Urself A… " (87); "One Mic" (43)
Platinum Certification Date: January 16, 2002
XXL Rating: XL
Album Producers: Megahertz, Baby Paul, Chucky Thompson, DJ Premier, Hangmen 3, L.E.S., Large Professor, Lofey, Mike Risko, Nas, Ron Browz, Salaam Remi, Trackmasters, Precision
Biggest Rap Album Competitor:  Jay Z, The Blueprint; Ludacris, Word of Mouf; Ja Rule, Pain Is Love
Grammy Nominations: 2003, Best Short-Form Music Video, "One Mic"
Rap Beefs: Jay Z, Roc-A-Fella Records, Prodigy, Cormega in "Ether"
Top News Headlines: Nas Disses Jay Z, Roc-A-Fella Records, Cormega and Prodigy
Stillmatic Is Nas’s Best Release Since It Was Written
"Oochie Wally" Experiences Chart Success

AlbumGod's Son
Release Date: December 13, 2002
First Week Sales: 156,000
Major Singles (Billboard Hot 100 peak): " "Made You Look" (32) "I Can"  (12) "Get Down" (N/A)
Platinum Certification Date: January 14, 2003
XXL Rating: XL
Album Producers: The Alchemist, Ron Browz, Eminem, Nas, Salaam Remi, Chucky Thompson, Agile
Biggest Rap Album Competitor:  Eminem, The Eminem Show; Jay Z, The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse
Grammy Nominations: N/A
Rap Beefs: The Roots, State Property, Cam'ron & Noreaga
Top News Headlines: Nas’s Mother Passes Away
HOT 97 Doesn’t Allow Nas To Lynch A Robot Jay Z At Summer Jam
Nas And Kelis Start Dating
Nas And Jay Z Are Rumored To Battle For A Rap PPV
Nas Reveals Secret Rap Beef With The Notorious B.I.G.