Nas: “I Was In A Trance” After The First Time I Heard Myself On The Radio
The first audio recording featuring Nas that was made commercially available was Main Source’s “Live at the Barbeque” posse cut. According to Nas in an interview with NPR Music, he unexpectedly heard the song on the radio walking back home one night and the mesmerizing verse couldn’t capture EVERYONE’S attention at the time:
I’m walking through the projects late one night. And I see these older dudes by the radio — by a car. They sittin’ by their car, talking. They were drinking beers and they were — late! And they were playing the radio out they car. So I’m just sitting there; I ain’t have nowhere else to go at this point. I ain’t seen none of my boys, so I’m just hanging out where they at. And then the record comes on. So I’m like, ‘Yo, that’s me! Yo, that’s me!’ So I’m like, ‘Yo!’ I’m trying to tell them, ‘Yo, that’s me!’ But they all in they conversation, they yelling and talking amongst each other. They not listening to the radio. I’m trying to tell them that’s me, they like, ‘Yeah, all right, all right.’ They not even — so I block them out. I’m just in my zone. I’m listening to me. So that walk from 12th Street to Vernon, back to my block, I was in a trance.
Miss Info, whom under the pseudonym Shortie, penned the legendary Five-Mic review of Illmatic for The Source back in 1994. Minyah “Miss Info” Oh claims that it was the realism of Illmatic that attracted her to the project and points out a certain slang term used that helped:
There’s a line about being ‘telephone blown.’ And it’s not about your telephone blowing up, and ringing. It’s about your face being opened up with a razor, which was called a ‘telephone cut’ because it went from your ear, to your mouth and it was gruesome. And I knew lots of kids walking around — even girls — with these scars. So those are little tiny things that make it very realistic. And I think that the bravado that is in a lot of the songs was totally realistic. Everyone had to feel somewhat invincible in order to just not get downtrodden.
Check out NPR’s article on Illmatic here.