There was a re-alignment in the hip-hop cosmology after Illmatic. In much the same way that Run-DMC's first album drew a line in the sand between old school and new school., Nas' debut ushered in a changing of the guard as the former kings of hip-hop found themselves having to compete with young guns who were evolving the art. Illmatic laid bare Big Daddy Kane's R&B excesses and Kool G Rap's lack of vision. Even Rakim, who laId the foundation upon which Nas built his opus, found himself in a kind of limbo once Illmatic established Nas as his second coming. The God MC whose mind-expansive work on Paid In Full and tracks like the "Ghetto" and "Follow the Leader" fueled Nas' creativity, spent the next several years in hip-hop absentia, maintaining his legendary status, but releasing little work.
3. Passed the Torch From Rakim