Elzhi, formerly of Slum Village, has released Elmatic, a mixtape reinterpretation of the legendary Nas album Illmatic. Produced entirely by Will Sessions, it also features Royce da 5’9” on an updated version of “Life’s A Bitch” and an appearance by Pete Rock (who produced the original “The World Is Yours“).
The project is ambitious, to say the least. Rather than simply reusing the Illmatic beats, Will Sessions crafted new tracks using the same samples chopped in new and different ways. Elzhi’s versions thus capture the sound and feeling of the Nas originals, but are different enough to pique your interest. Unfortunately, it’s a novelty that quickly wears off: they’re different, sure, but not necessarily better.
Same thing goes for the lyrics. Elzhi is a talented rapper, no doubt (and so is Royce), but is he on par with early Nasir Jones? Probably not. To be fair, I doubt anyone is. Nas’s verses on his first album are absolutely blistering; “It Ain’t Hard To Tell” may be one of the finest lyrical performances in the history of rap music. And AZ’s guest appearance on the first “Life’s A Bitch” kick-started – and continues to define – the man’s career.
That being said, Elmatic is still worth checking out. It’s a creative and unique homage, and some of the tracks are well done. Ultimately, though, it’ll just make you want to listen to the original.
Download: Elzhi – Elmatic
(Image credit: XXL Mag)