(swiped from Pitchfork Media)
I hope I'm not the first person to tell you that Nas' 1994 debut Illmatic is one of the greatest hip-hop LPs of any era, a must-own record, a landmark in lyrical rap music, and very possibly the single greatest disc to come out of New York's fertile mid-90s renaissance.
But if anybody can have the final word in the long string of praise and analysis the disc has received in the near decade-and-a-half since its release, I'd certainly want it to be scholar and activist Michael Eric Dyson, author of excellent works on Marvin Gaye and Tupac Shakur, among many others.
According to Amazon.com [via Nah Right], Dyson's Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas' Illmatic is due January 9, 2009 from Basic Civitas Books. The tome, named after a line in the Illmatic track "N.Y. State of Mind", will feature writing from Dyson as well as scholars Sohail Daulatzai, Adilifu Nama, Guthrie P. Ramsey Jr., James Peterson, Marc Lamont Hill, Mark Anthony Neal, Kyra Gaunt, Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Imani Perry, and more.
There's a great video here of Dyson speaking about his goals for the book-- and rapping the hell out of the "N.Y. State of Mind"-- after a recent Nas show. Speaking about Nas, Dyson praises "the intellectual ferocity and the political relevance of a young man who's speaking truth to power in these postmodern, postindustrial urban spaces. Where truth is being squeezed out, this brother is rising up with a rebellion and a kind of serious, serious political power that is necessary." Dyson also mentions that his chapter in the book will concern "One Love", the Q-Tip-produced which narrates a letter from Nas to his incarcerated friends.
Nas is currently out on the road promoting his latest album.
09-09 Sparks, NV - New Oasis
09-11 Chicago, CA - Senator Theatre
09-12 Atlantic City, NJ - House of Blues
09-17 Richmond, VA - Toad's Place
10-10 Rochester, NY - Gordon Field House (Rochester Institute of Technology)
Video: Nas: One Love [from the Illmatic LP]