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10 Ways Nas' "Illmatic" Changed Hip-Hop

8. Brought Real-Life Gangsters to Popular Culture

Name-dropping mythic real-world criminals in raps was a rarity in 1994. Aside from the West Coast's habit of banging on wax, hip-hop spoke little of the real life characters running the streets. But Nas started something when he alluded to real street kings like the Supreme Team and Alpo on "Memory Lane" or Pappy Mason on "The World Is Yours." That song set off the documentation and marketing of the real-life street legends and their life stories. Magazines like FEDS and Don Diva and movies like Paid In Full and American Gangster followed. Rick Ross damn near made a career of it.

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