April 19 marks the 30th anniversary of Nas‘ debut album, Illmatic, which soundtracked the childhood of a New York state senator. Sen. Jamaal T. Bailey spoke of the project’s influence at a session commemorating the milestone Wednesday.

“What were you doing when you were 20 years old?” Bailey asked. “Many of us were in college. We were finding who we were. Nasir Jones, poetically known as Nas, was making the greatest hip-hop album of all time, Illmatic.”

“Nas has been a hip-hop griot — the rapid response system for the streets, for lack of a better term,” he continued. “And if you have a top five without Nas in it, you shouldn’t listen to rap music.”

Sen. James Sanders Jr. added, “I would just finish by saying to everyone that there are seven established wonders of the modern world. Let me introduce you to Queens’ eighth.” Nas then stood up and acknowledged the praise from the crowd.

Released on April 19, 1994, Illmatic debuted at #12 on the Billboard 200 chart and has since been certified double Platinum by the RIAA. It spawned the singles “Life’s a B****” and “The World is Yours.”

 

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