- Nas' Illmatic is released on 4/19/94
- OutKast's Southernplayalisticadillacmusik is released on 4/26/94
It's not like Nasty Nas and OutKast snuck up on anyone in April 1994. Nas's buzz had been building for three years, ever since he announced himself as the "street's disciple" on Main Source's "Live at the Barbecue." Big Boi and Andre 3000 were on everyone's radar already, too; "Player's Ball" had been released the previous Christmas, heralding a new, crisp sound coming from the South. But put it like this: On Monday, April 18, rap was one way. Nine days later—after the release of the debut albums by artists who would completely alter the landscape of hip-hop—it was something else entirely.
Looking back, the albums are oddly similar, down to the intro-segueing-into-gradually-building first track openings. What they would portend were two different things entirely though. For much of the 19 years since SPCM's release, Atlanta has been the epicenter of hip-hop, and that's directly traceable to OutKast's debut. And Illmatic is, well, Illmatic. There's Before Illmatic and Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, and After Illmatic and Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. It's that simple. —Jack Erwin