Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas's Illmatic

Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas's Illmatic


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At the age of nineteen, Nasir “Nas” Jones began recording tracks for his debut album—and changed the music world forever. Released in 1994, Illmatic was hailed as an instant masterpiece and has proven one of the most influential albums in hip-hop history. With its close attention to beats and lyricism, and riveting first-person explorations of the isolation and desolation of urban poverty, Illmatic was pivotal in the evolution of the genre.

In Born to Use Mics, Michael Eric Dyson and Sohail Daulatzai have brought together renowned writers and critics including Mark Anthony Neal, Marc Lamont Hill, Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., and many others to confront Illmatic song by song, with each scholar assessing an individual track from the album. The result is a brilliant engagement with and commentary upon one of the most incisive sets of songs ever laid down on wax.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465002115
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 12/28/2009
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 465,142
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

Michael Eric Dyson is the author of seventeen books, including Is Bill Cosby Right?, April 4, 1968, and Holler If You Hear Me. Currently University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University, he lives in Washington, D.C.

Sohail Daulatzai is an assistant professor in African American Studies and Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Irvine. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

Table of Contents

Foreword: Common ix

Introduction: Illmatic: It Was Written 1

40Th Side North

1 It was Signified: "The Genesis" Adilifu Nama 13

2 A Rebel to America: "N.Y. State of Mind" After The Towers Fell Sohail Daulatzai 33

3 Time Is Illmatic: A Song for My Father, A Letter To My Son Guthrie P. Ramsey Jr. 61

4 "It's Yours": Hip-Hop Worldviews In The Lyrics Of Nas James Braxton Peterson 75

5 Critical Pedagogy Comes At Halftime: Nas as Black Public Intellectual Marc Lamont Hill 97

41St Side South

6 "Memory Lane": On Jazz, Hip-Hop, and Fathers Mark Anthony Neal 117

7 "One Love, " Two Brothers Three Verses Michael Eric Dyson 129

8 "One Time 4 Your Mind": Embedding Nas and Hip-Hop Into a Gendered State of Mind Kyra D. Gaunt 151

9 "Represent," Queensbridge, and The Art of Living Eddie S. Glaude Jr. 179

10 "It Ain't Hard to Tell": A Story of Lyrical Transcendece Imani Perry 195


The Second Coming: An Interview Jon Shecter 213

5-Mic Review Matt Life 223

Streets Disciple: Representing Queensbridge, New York, and The Future of Hip-Hop, Nas Is In His Own State of Mind: An Interview Bobbito The Barber 225

An Elegy for Illmatic Gregory Tate 237

Born Alone, Die Alone Dream Hampton 241

All The Words Past the Margins: Adam Mansbach and Kevin Coval Talk Understandable Smooth Shit Adam Mansbach Kevin Coval 245

Nighitime Is More Trife Than Ever: The Many Misuses of Nas Jon Caramanica 255

"Genesis": In The Hall of Mirrors Charlie Ahearn 261

Break (Is This) Suheir Hammad 265

I Reminisce on Park Jams: An Interview with Bobbito Garcia Sohail Daulatzai 267

Notes 279


Acknowledgments 294

Index 295

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Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas's Illmatic 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
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