The 20 Best Illmatic Lyrics

Illmatic is Nas' best album and arguably the greatest rap album ever. It succeeds in part because it's packed with lyrics, not only about Nas' superior skills but also about life, crime, and vitamins. Here are the best lyrics on Illmatic.

20
of 20

"N.Y. State of Mind"

Lyric: "Life is parallel to Hell but I must maintain and be prosperous, though we live dangerous."

19
of 20

"The World Is Yours"

nas-the-world-is-yours.jpg

Lyric: “I'm the young city bandit, hold myself down singlehanded. For murder raps, I kick my thoughts alone, get remanded. Born alone, die alone, no crew to keep my crown or throne.”

18
of 20

"Halftime"

Nas
Nas. © Def Jam

Lyric: "I rap in front of more ni--as than in the slave ships"

17
of 20

"Life's a B-tch"

Nas
(Photo © Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Lyric: “Time is illmatic, keep static like wool fabric. Pack a 4-matic to crack your whole cabbage”

16
of 20

"Memory Lane"

Nas.

Lyric: "My intellect prevails from a hanging cross with nails. I reinforce the frail, with lyrics that's real. Word to Christ, a disciple of streets, trifle on beats. I decipher prophecies through a mic and say peace."

15
of 20

"It Ain't Hard to Tell"

Nas
Nas. © Def Jam

Lyric: "I drank Moet with Medusa, gave her shotguns in hell. From the spliff that I lift and inhale, it ain't hard to tell."

14
of 20

"One Love"

Nas
Nas. © Michael Loccisano

Lyric: "Sometimes I sit back with a Buddha sack. Mind’s in another world thinking how can we exist through the facts."

13
of 20

"One Love"

Nas
Nas. © Def Jam

Lyric: "Then I rose, wiping the blunt’s ash from my clothes. Then froze only to blow the herb smoke through my nose."

12
of 20

"N.Y. State of Mind"

Nas
(Photo © Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

Lyric: “I’m taking rappers to a new plateau, through rap slow. My rhymin' is a vitamin held without a capsule."

11
of 20

"Represent"

Nas
(Photo © Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images)

Lyric: “Nas is a rebel of the street corner, pulling a Tec out the dresser. Police got me under pressure.”

10
of 20

"N.Y. State of Mind"

Nas is like...
(Photo © Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

Lyric: "It drops deep as it does in my breath. I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death. Beyond the walls of intelligence, life is defined. I think of crime when I'm in a New York state of mind."

09
of 20

"Represent"

Nas
(Photo © Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)

Lyric: "Straight up sh!t is real and any day could be your last in the jungle. Get murdered on the humble, guns'll blast, ni--as tumble."

08
of 20

"Represent"

Lyric: “Somehow the rap game reminds me of the crack game/Used to sport Bally's and Gazelle's with black frames/Now I'm into fat chains, sex and tecs/Fly new chicks and new kicks, Heine's and Beck's”

07
of 20

"Halftime"

Nas
N-A-S are the letters that spell... © Andy Sheppard/Getty Images

Lyric: ”You couldn’t catch me in the streets without a ton of reefer. That’s like Malcolm X catching the Jungle Fever.”

06
of 20

"One Love"

nas-one_love.jpeg

Lyric: “So stay civilized, time flies. Though incarcerated your mind dies, I hate it when your moms cries. It kinda makes me want to murder, for real a/I even got a mask and gloves to bust slugs but one love”

05
of 20

"The World Is Yours"

Lyric: "I'm out for Presidents to represent me."

04
of 20

"Memory Lane (Sittin' in da Park)"

Nas. Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Lyric: "True in the game, as long as blood is blue in my veins. I pour my Heineken brew to my deceased crew on memory lane."

03
of 20

"Memory Lane (Sittin' in da Park)"

Nasty-Nas.jpg
(Photo © Andrew H. Walker/Getty)

Lyric: “My window faces shootouts, drug overdoses. Live amongst no roses, only the drama, for real. A nickel-plate is my fate, my medicine is the ganja. Here’s my basis my razor embraces, many faces. Your telephone-blown, Black, stitches or fat shoelaces.”

02
of 20

"N.Y. State of Mind"

Lyric: "Inhale deep like the words of my breath. I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death. I lay puzzle as I backtrack to earlier times. Nothing's equivalent, to the New York State of Mind."

01
of 20

"Life's a B-tch"

Nas
Nas. © Columbia

Lyric: "I switched my motto -- instead of saying f-ck tomorrow, that buck that bought a bottle could've struck the lotto"

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Adaso, Henry. "The 20 Best Illmatic Lyrics." ThoughtCo, Mar. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/the-best-illmatic-lyrics-2857772. Adaso, Henry. (2017, March 3). The 20 Best Illmatic Lyrics. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-best-illmatic-lyrics-2857772 Adaso, Henry. "The 20 Best Illmatic Lyrics." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-best-illmatic-lyrics-2857772 (accessed November 20, 2017).