My first album had no famous guest appearances
Illmatic contained only one other rapper, AZ, who was less well known than Nas. Illmatic became a classic strictly off of Nas’s skill. He didn’t need the benefit of appeal from big name rappers to make a name for himself
Given that this album was Nas’s turn at the peak of the Nas vs. Jay-Z beef this is also likely a subliminal shot at Jay-Z, whose major label debut “Reasonable Doubt” had spots from Biggie Smalls, Mary J. Blige, Memphis Bleek, Foxy Brown, etc.
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