On this day, April 19, in hip-hop history...

Columbia Records
Columbia Records

1994: Nas released his seminal debut album Illmatic on April 19, 1994. In 1991, the Queensbridge rapper built a major buzz in the New York hip-hop market after first appearing on Main Source's "Live From the Barbeque." In the following year, Nas released his acclaimed solo single "Halftime" - which appeared on the soundtrack to the film Zebrahead - and hired 3rd Bass rapper MC Serch as his manager. Nas' connection with Serch ultimately helped him land a recording contract Columbia after both Cold Chillin' and Def Jam had passed over the rapper. Following his deal, Nas began recording the songs that would later make up Illmatic with the likes of DJ Premier, Large Professor, Q-Tip and more. Although the album wasn't an instant commercial success, it was met with universal critical acclaim upon its release, even earning a five-mic rating from The Source. In the years to come, Illmatic would become one of hip-hop's most acclaimed releases. The album was later certified platinum by the RIAA in 2001.

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