At the age of nineteen, Nasir "Nas" Jones began recording tracks for his debut album -- and changed the music world forever. Released in 1994, Illmatic was hailed as an instant masterpiece and has proven one of the most influential albums in hip-hop history. With its close attention to beats and lyricism, and riveting first-person explorations of the isolation and desolation of urban poverty, Illmatic was pivotal in the evolution of the genre.
In Born to Use Mics, Michael Eric Dyson and Sohail Daulatzai have brought together the best and brightest writers of the hip hop generation to confront Illmatic song by song, with each scholar assessing an individual track from the album. The result is a brilliant engagement with and commentary upon one of the most incisive sets of songs ever laid down on wax.
Adilifu Nama • Guthrie P. Ramsey Jr. • James Braxton Peterson • Marc Lamont Hill • Mark Anthony Neal • Kyra D. Gaunt • Eddie S. Glaude Jr. • Imani Perry • Jon Shecter • Matt Life • Bobbito the Barber • Greg Tate • Dream Hampton • Adam Mansbach • Kevin Coval • Jon Caramanica • Charlie Ahearn • Suheir Hammad
About the Author
Dr. Michael Eric Dyson is Distinguished University Professor of African American and Diaspora Studies, and of Ethics and Society, and NEH Centennial Chair at Vanderbilt University. He is a New York Times bestselling author of over twenty books, including JAY-Z, Tears We Cannot Stop, What Truth Sounds Like, and Long Time Coming. Dyson is a prominent public intellectual, an ordained Baptist minister, and a noted political analyst. A two-time NAACP Image Award winner, he is also the winner of the American Book Award for Come Hell or High Water. A native of Detroit, Michigan, Dyson currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee.
Sohail Daulatzai is an Associate Professor in African American Studies, Film and Media Studies, Global Middle East Studies, and Visual Studies at the University of California, Irvine. He lives in Los Angeles, California.
Booklist “A vital book for readers eager to understand the history of the genre.”