Not long after sitting down with Fuse to reflect on his debut album for our three-part special Illmatic at 20, Nas stopped by Reddit for an AMA to chat directly with fans about his game-changing debut.
In addition to talking Illmatic, the esteemed MC also shared his picks for the most significant, culture-shaping rap albums of all time—and purists might be surprised to see he ranked two mainstream 2013 titles on that level.
"Illmatic has been considered as the best hip hop album of all time and was iconic in the impact it left on hip hop," one Reddit user wrote. "What other hip hop albums do you think were significant in shaping the culture?"
After offering a few of the usual suspects—Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and Eric B. & Rakim's Paid In Full—Nas named a few recent LPs, including the latest offerings from Drake and Jay Z.
Well, to be precise, Nas wrote, "Drake's last album Holy Grail," but we're assuming he means both albums and isn't accidentally calling Drake's Nothing Was the Same by the name of Jay's latest.
That's still a big endorsement. NWTS met with universally positive reviews, but most critics tempered their praise. Rolling Stone lauded it but chided Drake for some ”some truly corny lines" while HipHopDX hit him with the complimentary-but-damning descriptor, "Pop-rap heavyweight."
Magna Carta…Holy Grail currently holds a 60 on Metacritic, which means it received "mixed or average" reviews, so having Nas endorse it in the same breath as Illmatic is pretty major (either that or he's just feeling especially generous toward Jay after their Coachella spot together).
Based on sales, fans have responded ravenously to both of those albums even if the critical response has been more measured. So perhaps when those records celebrate their 20-year milestones, we'll be mentioning one or both in the same breath as Illmatic.
Or... maybe not. While it seems unlikely either record will ever get THAT much universal adoration, the fact that Nas singled out those two releases as "all-time classics" is a good indicator their staying power is greater than many thought at first.