The Library of Congress announced on Wednesday that Nas’s debut album, Illmatic, will be inducted into the National Recording Registry.
Illmatic was a real “cultural reset.” The 1994 album was one of the first times a rapper grabbed several superstar producers to contribute to one project. Also, at just 20-years-old, Nas was able to blend conscious lyrics with bars that are relatable to his surroundings in the Queensbridge Houses. This duality and approach to creating a project are methods that are still mimicked by artists.
Illmatic is one of 25 audio recordings deemed worthy of preservation by the Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden. They were chosen from close to 1,000 submissions and include Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, “When the Saints Go Marching In” by Louis Armstrong, Celebrate! by Kool & Th Gang, Kermit the Frog’s “The Rainbow Connection,” and other classic recordings.
“The National Recording Registry will preserve our history through these vibrant recordings of music and voices that have reflected our humanity and shaped our culture from the past 143 years,” Hayden said when announcing the new inductees. “We received about 900 public nominations this year for recordings to add to the registry, and we welcome the public’s input as the Library of Congress and its partners preserve the diverse sounds of history and culture.”
The recent recordings selected bring the number of audio pieces inducted into the National Recording Registry to 575. This is just a small portion of the near 3 million items preserved in the library’s recorded sound collection.