Nas: I Leaked Illmatic Before It Came Out

(AllHipHop News) One of the lesser known facts about Hip Hop is that Illmatic‘s 10 track list was a result of the album being rushed to release due to it leaking. In a recent interview with REVOLT LIVE, Nas admits to leaking his own debut album.

Nas says he did not intend to leak the album, but simply wanted to give his friends sample tapes. However, once the young MC saw the leaked songs reach across the country, he knew he made a mistake:

I heard a lot of stories, but I feel guilty too because I was making tapes for my friends. I didn’t think about it like, ‘My album’s gonna come out,’ but I made a few copies for my boys. Everybody wanted a copy so I just gave them a copy. It was playing in the neighborhood, so I thought it was cool that the neighborhood had the copies first until I heard [that] it was in [Los Angeles], Chicago, and all these different places. I was messed up for a minute. It was dope, too, at the same time because I knew people liked it. It was cool.

Nas’ documentary Time Is Illmatic will debut at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 16th and will chronicle his Illmatic years.

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  • Eli Pinilla


    • $crillaFornia

      Stillmatic was better

      • Eli Pinilla

        Illmatic his best work…With lost tapes and stillmatic right behind it.

      • $crillaFornia

        well we have our opinions…..

      • Eli Pinilla

        Yes we do

  • This dude is still living off of that album as if that is all he had. He has already ended up like KRS-One, making too many unneeded albums which drowns out his best.

    • RBLVZN

      Homie put his best foot forward didn’t he? IJS… Illmatic help save my life in ’93

      • How did an album help save your life? If you need to listen to music to get motivated to do anything or to not do something, then you have issues.

      • jd

        Don’t judge someone like that. Obviously they had issues if an album helped save there life but having your life saved by anything is a blessing, bro. Music inspired and motivate everything. Even basketball and football players need music to get them hyped up and motivated.

      • $11625525

        Read every post he writes, always something negative toward the last post, he has a blinkered view and cannot accept we’re not all the same.

      • RapItUp

        Music is the universal language.. Probably second to mathematics.. Or tied.. If you don’t understand that, what the hell are you doing here?

      • $crillaFornia


      • Terrance

        Without 90’s Hip-Hop, I’m not sure I turn out the person I am today. That conscious music woke me and several of my friends up from dat street slumber. #TRUTH

      • Ok, on that level – ok. On some other level, I don’t know…

      • RBLVZN

        What did you think i meant? Where on a Hip-Hop forum. If Hip-Hop/Rap doesnt heal,help or save & that wasnt the case for so many others this sight may not even be here. I was 13/14 in ’93 by the way. Exactly how wise were you at that time/age? I was up to my eyelids in street sh!t. (no gangs) real “eastcoast” street shit. Nas made me feel ok to display my sensibility & maintain my “street” edge meaning street doesnt have to mean dummy or smart doest have to mean soft. I’m about to be 35 this year. shot,stabbed arrested & harrassed multiple times (3 major cases 1 federal beat’em all no snitching either… or should I say “ETHER”) throughout my life (like the rest of black males in the u.s.a.) dig this though No parole No probation No alimony No baby mama… shit! No kids… NO clock punching for me also legally self-employed since 18yrs of age (’97). So in “hindsight” ILLMATIC save my life cause it got through to me more than any person directly in my life at the time. However I don’t look up to “rappers” I have a biological father that has raised me since my birth. Meaning under same roof, food, clothes etc. Nas actually got me to “listen” to my Dad. Hip-Hop doesnt “seem” to represent everyday black people anymore but it does. Rap is just waaaaaaaaaaaay off right now. Lastly i dont know who you are but knowledge is definitely what’s “up” however your looking “down”…. Peace though

    • IsiahZeke11

      You sound foolish man, Illmatic was a standout album to say the least… But he’s went on to make many more dope albums, go one on one with the so-called king of nyc and come out victorious, not to mention his last album was Grammy nominated and in my opinion should have one the grammy over drake… Far from ending up like KRS-One to say the least!!!

      • $crillaFornia

        I respect Nas as one of the top 10 lyricist all time…but why do NY artist hold on to things that are from the past that don’t even matter….I can name 5 albums that came out in the 90s, that had a huge impact on hip hop, that nobody even mentions, and those artist are not holding on to the past….iilmatic was dope, but to me stillmantic was better…just let it go…it was dope…your not relevant anymore, and thats the problem with NY…One of the dopiest albums ever made hands down was “Death Certificate” by Ice Cube…you don’t see him still talking about it….and that album from front to back was doper than any NY album ever made….Hands down

      • I was with you until you wrote that albums was better than ANY NY album EVER made! Maybe doper than any L.A. area rapper ever made, but not NY! Shit, I STILL love B.G.’s Checkmate, which does not get the credit it should have gotten as a classic you can listen ALL tracks.

      • $11625525

        Ice Cube is more focused on film than music, so of course he’s not going to talk about it. If his old label approached him and said “Mr Jackson, we’re going to do a 20th anniversay edition of your album, would you like to submit some additional tracks for it and will you do some promo?” Ice Cube would most likely say “Let me see the paperwork and we’re good”.

        Mobb Deep just put out there Anniversary Edition of “The Infamous” too, just to put things into perspective, so you’re wrong in your assessment. It’s all about labels and the working relationship between the label and the artists.

      • Da Ledgendary

        So he’s not relevant anymore because…..y? he’s not played on mainstream radio 10 times a day like drake and them anymore or on 106 and Park? Your statement is ridiculous. When an artist has been in the game for 20 + years and still has a core fan base, most of which are grown ass people over 30, and regardless of radio play or lack thereoff, and still sell out shows damn near anywhere in the world, that’s still relevant. People like Nas and KRS are no longer mainstream and do not music for people under 30, I’ll even go as low as 25. Most Hip hop stations target demographic is 17 to 20 somethings. The only way you can legitimately call an artist irrelevant is when promoters stop booking them. 20 years in the game and still making millions a year from touring and appearances does not qualify as irrelevant.

      • Nas has been played out and is overrated. I am sorry. He stole Kool G Rap’s style and he used too many stale break beats. Grammy nominations these days are all albums seem to be worth. Back in the day, the Grammy used to be high praise, now, it is only for the chose few whom the elites want to bring attention to. Did Chris Brown really have to get a Grammy over Kelly Price and R. Kelly?

        Nas is like KRS because KRS (used to love him) just releases shit just to do it as opposed to trying to make a masterpiece to get paid. Rappers early in the careers are hungry so they put more effort into their shit because they not only wants hits, they want money and a career. If you get no hits, you have no career, but you can still make a LITTLE money. Now, Nas, KRS and a few others just make shit just to make it when no one is really buying anything but single these days. EP’s rule today, not albums.

      • IsiahZeke11

        You sounding real old and bitter man, Kool G has nothing but praise for Nas and even recorded with him… So please get off that he stole his style BS. Not to mention KRS was a great but hasn’t had half the career Nas has had, not to mention if he’s so irrelevant how is he still headlining shows and ALL the relevant of the game still rocking with him?!? Finally Life is Good was a STRONG album speaking on his life, divorce, his status, his seed (daughters), and true grown man artist growth ish… It’s just you’re own damn fault if you are incapable of growing with the times with him, no true artist remains the same nor should they! Thus the reason why he’s able to have a 20th anniversary album and not so much for ole KRS. Your weak azz comparison has just been easily proven severely flawed dude, put the haterade down already!

      • Man I hate when you people always call people with their detailed, well analyzed views bitter or some other name. I just call it as I see it. I saw Kool G saying what he said about Nas, but he did not disagree that Nas stole his style! Hell, Big Daddy Kane stole G Rap’s style too!

        KRS-One was making that serious hip-hop from the street level. KRS mainly made his music for the streets while Nas made his for mass appeal. Nas also had a ‘appearance’ advantage over KRS too. Who is the better rapper – Nas or KRS?

        Nas had many albums, like KRS, but both ended up matching or exceeding their weak/overlooked albums with their good stuff. Nas’ most successful stuff was his second album and that was a patchwork of many hits from the past rolled into one. I am not just talking beats, I am talking songs, concepts, hooks, etc. I can’t respect that. It worked for him (some say illuminati) but it was what it was. It made him a legend.


      KRS-ONE is a LEGEND and has respect all over the world. And he can still make music and hold his own with today’s “rappers”.

      • El moreno de Queens #Dominican

        KRS-ONE is irrelevant.

      • johnblacksad

        the bridge is ova, the bridge is ova…

        ha ha… you still mad 30 years later = major L… smh

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  • Lboog

    Nas goat standing for 20 years where a lot of these guys will be a distant memory salute!

    • $crillaFornia

      Nas is not goat hommie….Nas is not even relevant anymore, and hasn’t been for at least 10 years…..but he still one of my favorite, but he isn’t relevant…Ny just put they artist on a pedestal like they gods or something….Like how everybody tries to compare Pac, and Big…Biggie was more lyrical, but he only came out with one album, and died before his second one droped….Pac already had like 3 albums out before he signed to death row, and about 5 movies and everybody tries to compare them…aint no comparison, NY just put they artist on a pedestal like they god, and don’t give props to other artist that are not from NY during that time…and if Big would have gotten killed then Jay-Z wouldn’t have blown like he did…Jay-Z took biggie spot, and even stole some of his lyrics…..Now as for now, my nigga is Uncle Murder, that nigga sick…I don’t get it why Puff, Jay, or 50 isn’t trying to sign that dude….he got it

      • bigdoe6

        Nas been touring for the last 20 years. What do u mean he’s not relevant????? Oh cause he’s not doing songs with Migos, and Chief Keef?

      • $11625525

        Speak for yourself, you don’t speak for every hip hop fan.

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  • Lboog

    Relevance means standing the test of time how many artist are celebrating or talking about the first album 20 years later. Uncle Murda is all right but you will see that a lot of theses guys are never gonna sign him cause he one dimensional. End of the day $$$$$$$ is what these labels want.