9. Galvanized the East Coast
Illmatic set off a seismic shift in rap geopolitics. The album galvanized Queensbridge hip-hop and by extension East Coast rap as a whole. Starting with AZ's sublime guest spot on "Life's A Bitch," rappers like Mobb Deep, Tragedy Khadafi, Nature, Cormega, Noreaga, Capone, Raekwon, Ghostface, and even the Windy City wordsmith Common seemed to find new inspiration in Nas' self awareness, internal rhyme schemes, and mastery of street detail. Rappers had to step it up-think Ghost on "Verbal Intercourse"-and it resulted in a boom of substantive self-conscious realness in East Coast rap.