llmatic is Nas debut album, released on April 19, 1994, by Columbia Records. After signing to the label with the help of MC Serch, Nas recorded the album during 1992 and 1993 at Chung King Studios, D&D Recording, Battery Studios, and Unique Recording Studios in New York City. Styled as a hardcore hip hop album, Illmatic features multi-syllabic internal rhyme patterns and inner city narratives based on Nas's experiences in Queensbridge, New York.
Upon its release, the album debuted at number 12 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, selling 59,000 copies in its first week. However, its initial sales fell below expectations and its five singles failed to achieve significant chart success. Though it experienced initial low sales, Illmatic received rave reviews from most music critics upon its release and earned praise for its lyrical content, production, and Nas's lyricism. On January 17, 1996, the album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, and in 2001, it earned platinum certification after shipments of one million copies in the United States.
Since its initial reception, Illmatic has been recognized by writers and music critics as a landmark album in East Coast hip hop. Its influence on subsequent hip hop artists has been attributed to the album's production and Nas's lyricism. It also contributed to the revival of the New York City rap scene, introducing a number of stylistic trends to the region. The album remains one of the most widely celebrated albums in hip hop history, appearing on numerous best album lists by critics and publications.