Stillmatic

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Stillmatic
Studio album by Nas
Released December 18, 2001
Recorded 1999-2001
Genre Hip hop
Length 60:17
Label Ill Will, Columbia/SME
CK 85736
Producer Megahertz, Baby Paul, Chucky Thompson, DJ Premier, Hangmen 3, L.E.S., Large Professor, Lofey, Mike Risko, Nas, Ron Browz, Salaam Remi, Trackmasters, Precision
Nas chronology
Nastradamus
(1999)
Stillmatic
(2001)
The Lost Tapes
(2002)
Singles from Stillmatic
  1. "Rule"
    Released: October 6, 2001
  2. "Got Ur Self A..."
    Released: December 4, 2001
  3. "One Mic"
    Released: April 16, 2002

Stillmatic is the fifth studio album by American rapper Nas, released December 18, 2001 on Columbia Records in the United States. In contrast to his previous work's gangsta rap themes, it contains socially conscious and philosophical themes similar to those of his debut album, Illmatic (1994). Nas' lyrics address topics such as ghetto life, U.S. domestic and foreign policies, and his feud with rapper Jay-Z.

Stillmatic served as a commercial and critical success that helped re-establish Nas' career, following a period of critical disappointment with the releases of I Am… and Nastradamus (1999).[1][2] It debuted at number 8 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart with sales of 342,600, eventually peaking at number 5 and selling over 2,026,000 copies in the United States.[3] Upon its release, Stillmatic received generally positive reviews from most music critics.

Background[edit]

Though he had gained critical acclaim with his classic debut album Illmatic in 1994, Nas' image had been quickly deteriorating in the hip-hop community with his change of theme, from the philosophical topics of Illmatic to the gangsta rap and commercialized sound that became the focus of his later albums.[4] While his second album, It Was Written, " received fairly positive reviews and introduced him to a greater audience, the follow-ups I Am... and Nastradamus were considered mediocre in comparison by critics.[1][4] Some criticized his inability to continue his critical success, with Jay-Z rapping in "Takeover" that he had "a one hot album every ten year average." The release of Stillmatic was an attempt by Nas to reestablish his credibility in the hip-hop community, with the title signifying his intentions to continue where Illmatic left off.

Feud with Jay-Z[edit]

Jay-Z had previously dissed Nas in his single "Takeover, taken from his September 2001 release, The Blueprint." [4] On Stillmatic," Nas retaliated with the anticipated song, "Ether," a response to "Takeover" which insinuated that Jay-Z had stolen lyrics from The Notorious B.I.G. several times, that he had sold out, and that he was a misogynist, among other things. Several hip-hop aficionados believe Nas won the feud based on this track, which many felt was much more vicious and ruthless than "Takeover," although this is still a subject of debate within hip-hop circles. Jay-Z would respond with the radio freestyle "Supa Ugly." [5]

Singles[edit]

The first single from Stillmatic was "Rule" featuring R&B singer Amerie. It was not heavily promoted but still managed to reach number 67 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart.[6] It did not receive a video and was issued on compact disc, so many are unaware that it was a single. "Got Ur Self A..." was believed to have been the first single from Stillmatic. "Got Ur Self A...," produced by Megahertz, contains a sample from the theme song on the HBO drama The Sopranos." The third single was "One Mic," which received acclaim for its content and video.

Reception[edit]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album was released on December 18, 2001 and was certified Platinum by Recording Industry Association of America on January 16, 2002.[7] By July 2008, the album sold over 2,026,000 copies in the United States.[3]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[8]
The A.V. Club mixed[9]
Blender 3/5 stars[10]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[11]
NME 7/10[12]
PopMatters favorable[13]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[1]
The Source 5/5 stars[14]
Stylus Magazine A−[15]
The Village Voice favorable[5]

Stillmatic received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 69, based on 12 reviews.[16] Despite finding its production "half-realised", Alex Needham of NME wrote that "lyrically, Nas is pretty much back on form".[12] Blender's Alex Pappademas described the album as "a surprising return to form" and stated "Even if it’s a fluke, Stillmatic still feels like a ren-Nas-sance".[10] Steve Jones of USA Today gave it three-and-a-half out of four stars and stated, "dis songs aside, Nas' strength has always been his incisive lyrical analyses of current events."[17] In his review for The Village Voice, Selwyn Seyfu Hinds wrote "Stillmatic isn't merely a reunion or rehash of Illmatic themes. The Nas on this record has grown, with the emotional expansion such maturation suggests. For one, he has never before drawn upon his anger, with a burning focus and controlled intensity that underscores nearly every song. Some of it can surely be ascribed to the Jay-Z battle, but more seems due to the deeper, internal struggle Nas has waged against the fallout from his early, precocious success".[5]

In contrast, Rolling Stone magazine gave it two-and-a-half out of five stars, and stated "Striving to maintain street cred while reaching for pop success has left Nas vacillating clumsily on past projects, and this record is riddled with similar inconsistencies. One moment he casts himself as a gritty cat who feels most at home on a project bench, calling out neighborhood snakes, and ducking gunshots. The next, he's delivering dumbed-down verses over the Trackmasters' rinky-dink rendition of Tears for Fears".[18] John Bush from Allmusic wrote "Dropping many of the mainstream hooks and featured performers in order to focus his rapping, Nas proves he's still a world-class rhymer, but he does sound out of touch in the process of defending his honor. Despite the many highlights, a few of the tracks just end up weighing him down".[8] Brett Berliner from Stylus Magazine remarked "Stillmatic features the best rhymes from Nas since his debut, and possibly the best rhymes of the year, rivaled maybe only by Ghostface Killah". He however was unfavorable of the album's guests, and some of its production, and went on to comment "Stillmatic was billed as a recreation of Illmatic, where the only rhyming guest was the underrated AZ. However, 5 other guest rappers appear on the album, including Nas’ crew, the Bravehearts, and the mundane Millennium Thug. The guest rappers only detract from the album, and the guest singers that appear don’t add a whole lot either".[15]

Despite a mixed response from most mainstream music publications, Stillmatic achieved a fair amount of acclaim from within the hip hop community, who viewed it as a comeback album. The Source magazine gave it '5 mics', a rating they reserve only for classic hip-hop albums.[14] HipHopDx also gave it a maximum five rating, and wrote "Easily one of the best albums of the year, Stillmatic runs the gamut of street poetry to storytelling and bravado. This CD is filled with instant classics".[19] Although panning several of the album's songs, Steve Juon from RapReviews gave it a 9 out of 10 rating and concluded "While no album may ever top his debut's brilliance, this one comes close enough to make even his most passionate haters happy to hear the raw essence of hip-hop revealed in all its true glory".[20] Giving Stillmatic a three and-a-half out of five rating, Elizabeth Mendez Berry of Vibe was less favorable, calling it "infuriatingly inconsistent", but she went on to extol it as "an exercise in lyrical courage and musical might".[21]

In The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), Rolling Stone journalist Chris Ryan gave the album three stars and called it "a return to form".[1] Ryan wrote that it "finds Nas sticking with what works, creative storyraps and trenchant social commentary. He still errs when he makes attempts at club tracks, but the album is largely a success."[1] In 2005, Chris Rock compiled a list of his Top 25 Hip-Hop Albums of all time, to which he ranked Stillmatic at number 20, commenting "It's like Mama Said Knock You Out eleven years earlier, where a guy just reclaimed his spot with some great records".[22]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Producer(s) Length
1. "Stillmatic (The Intro)"   Hangmen 3 2:11
2. "Ether"   Ron Browz 4:37
3. "Got Ur Self A..."   Megahertz 3:48
4. "Smokin'"   Nas, Precision 3:47
5. "You're da Man"   Large Professor 3:26
6. "Rewind"   Large Professor 2:13
7. "One Mic"   Nas, Chucky Thompson 4:28
8. "2nd Childhood"   DJ Premier 3:51
9. "Destroy & Rebuild"   Baby Paul, Mike Risko 5:24
10. "The Flyest" (feat. AZ) L.E.S. 4:38
11. "Braveheart Party" (feat. Mary J. Blige & Bravehearts) Swizz Beatz 3:43
12. "Rule" (feat. Amerie) Trackmasters 4:32
13. "My Country" (feat. Millennium Thug) Lofey 5:12
14. "What Goes Around" (feat. Keon Bryce) Salaam Remi 4:59
Notes
  • The track "Braveheart Party" was removed from later pressings of Stillmatic at Mary J. Blige's request.[23]
  • The Japanese release of Stillmatic features three additional tracks: "No Idea's Original," "Everybody's Crazy" and "Black Zombies." Each can also be found on The Lost Tapes, a compilation album that was released in 2002.
  • A limited edition version of Stillmatic contains a bonus disc with snippets from five songs on The Lost Tapes.
Samples

Personnel[edit]

Credits for Stillmatic adapted from Allmusic.[24]

Charts[edit]

Album[edit]

Chart (2002) Peak
position
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[25] 40
French Albums (SNEP)[26] 124
German Albums (Media Control)[27] 64
Japanese Albums (Oricon)[28]
[29]
95
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[30] 56
US Billboard 200[31] 5
US Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums (Billboard)[32] 1

Singles[edit]

Year Song Chart positions[6]
Billboard Hot 100 Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks Hot Rap Singles
2002 "Got Ur Self A..." 87 37 2
"Ether" 50
"One Mic" 43 14 10
"Rule" 67

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Ryan et. al Hoard (2004), p. 568.
  2. ^ Leroy, Dan. "Nas Reviews". Yahoo! Music. Yahoo!. Archived from the original on 2012-06-15. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  3. ^ a b "More Than Words". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media) 120 (27): 33. Retrieved 2011-08-12.
  4. ^ a b c Birchmeier, Jason. Biography: Nas. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-11-21.
  5. ^ a b c Hinds, Selwyn Seyfu. Review: Stillmatic. The Village Voice. Retrieved on 2009-11-21.
  6. ^ a b Billboard Singles: Stillmatic. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-11-22.
  7. ^ http://www.riaa.com/goldandplatinumdata.php?table=SEARCH_RESULTS
  8. ^ a b Bush, John. Review: Stillmatic. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-11-21.
  9. ^ Rabin, Nathan. Nas: Stillmatic. The A.V. Club. Dec. 18, 2001
  10. ^ a b Pappademas, Alex (February 2002). "Review: Stillmatic". Blender (Alpha Media Group) (5): 114. 
  11. ^ Baker, Soren. Review: Stillmatic. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2009-11-21.
  12. ^ a b Needham, Alex (January 11, 2002). Review: Stillmatic at the Wayback Machine (archived October 2, 2002). NME. Retrieved on 2010-10-16.
  13. ^ Hill, Marc L. Review: Stillmatic. PopMatters. Retrieved on 2009-11-21.
  14. ^ a b Kazeem (August 4, 2010). The Complete List Of 5 Mic Hip-Hop Classics. "The Source." Retrieved 2012-07-25.
  15. ^ a b Berliner, Brett. Review: Stillmatic. Stylus Magazine. Retrieved on 2009-11-21.
  16. ^ Stillmatic (2001): Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2010-10-16.
  17. ^ Jones, Steve. "Review: Stillmatic". USA Today: D.06. December 18, 2001.
  18. ^ McGuire, Kathryn. Review: Stillmatic. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2012-02-14.
  19. ^ Nas Stillmatic. hiphopdx.com. December 24, 2001.
  20. ^ Juon, steve. Nas :: Stillmatic. rapreviews.com. December 18, 2001.
  21. ^ Berry, Elizabeth Mendez. "Review: Stillmatic". Vibe: 120. February 2002.
  22. ^ Chris Rock's Top 25
  23. ^ Reid, Shaheem. "Mary J. Blige Track On Nas' Stillmatic To Be Cut For 'Personal Reasons'". MTV.com. January 25, 2002. Retrieved August 11, 2008.
  24. ^ Credits: Stillmatic. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-11-22.
  25. ^ "NAS – Stillmatic". Dutchcharts.nl. Hung Medien. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  26. ^ "NAS – Stillmatic". Lescharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  27. ^ "NAS - Stillmatic". Charts.de. Media Control. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  28. ^ "Oricon Top 50 Albums" (In Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  29. ^ http://www.oricon.co.jp/prof/artist/17729/products/music/460453/1/
  30. ^ "NAS – Stillmatic". Swisscharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  31. ^ "Nas Album & Song Chart History" Billboard 200 for Nas. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  32. ^ "Nas Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums for Nas. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved November 12, 2013.

References[edit]

  • Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide: Completely Revised and Updated 4th Edition. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 

External links[edit]