Song: "N.Y. State Of Mind" (1994)
Album: Illmatic

The meaning of this opening—that Nas is changing the rap game, business as usual—is less important than the sound of it: a rat-a-tat-tat percussive pattern of consonents trailed by vowels, all delivered with Nas's laid-back tone, splashing over the tapped piano keys of the beat. The best ones make it sound so easy, when we know better: It's anything but.