Album: Illmatic
Label: Columbia

Created from what Premier described to us as an "ill, gutter, Joe Chambers sample," "N.Y. State of Mind" was the first of three Premier beats on Nas' seminal debut Illmatic. And with that insane bass line, and perfectly placed, off-key, bar-ending piano chord, it's the most memorable. It moved like a late night creep through a New York alley-way, putting Nas in the appropriate hometown state of mind to display his supreme nastiness.

On I Am..., Nas and Premo would recreate the magic in this record on "N.Y. State of Mind Pt. II," a far-too-slept-on sequel. But as great as it was, it could never top the original, which has been officially crowned the best Nas song of all-time. —Daniel Isenberg