Everyone has their own way of escaping the stresses of the world. Whether it’s meditation, exercise, or doing whatever makes you happy. For me, I’ve been fortunate enough to always have music for calming my nerves. Whether it’s Classic Rock, Electronic, or Hip-Hop, each has their own way of helping me through the tough days.

The one most special to me, though, has been Hip-Hop. I first discovered the beauty of the genre through Jay-Z, Talib Kweli, and Nas. There were many other artists I knew about and were interested in, but these three really peaked my interest. Reasonable Doubt was one of the first Hip-Hop albums I listened to. Tracks like 22 Two’s and Can I Live had me intrigued with the skilled wordplay necessary to become a great rapper. These same ideas were applied when listening to Black Star, especially Definition. I was amazed at how strong and precise a flow could be. However, at this time in my interest in Hip-Hop, I was still pretty unaware of what a good “flow” and “delivery” was. Even without this idea of how to grade a good Hip-Hop track, the sound of the things they were saying, and the way they were saying it just stuck out to me. Also, lyrics were a huge part of my interest in music, due to the importance of songwriting in classic rock.

Black Star

As for Nas, Illmatic has been an album that I constantly mention to anybody who wants to know as my favorite that I’ve ever listened to. I found out about this amazing piece of work a little after the aforementioned albums, but it stuck out to me more than any other. Eventually, this project would have a huge inspiration on me writing rap music, but at this time I was simply blown away by the complex maze of rhymes and syllables being thrown at me track after track.

Making multiple syllables rhyme was one of the things I struggled with the most when I first started rapping. Nas’ rhymes on Illmatic made it seem so simple, kind of like watching a professional athlete make a difficult sport look easy to the average viewer.

These days, Illmatic is my zen moment. My escape from the troubles of the world. For about 40 minutes and 10 tracks, from when Life’s a Bitch starts, until It Ain’t Hard to Tell ends, I get transported to a world of stories and rhythms; all far away from anything happening in the current moment. I can only hope that my music will eventually have as big of an impact on someone as Illmatic does for me.

Music will always be my escape from the world, whether I’m writing it or listening to my favorite album. It’s the perfect way to fall back from everything and enjoy something I love. Take some time out of each busy week to find your own zen moment. Your well-being will thank you for it.


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