Today in Hip Hop History: Halftime

Halftime Nasty Nas
Halftime (1992)

Today in Hip Hop History: October 13, 1992

Nasty Nas, also known as Nas, released his debut single “Halftime” through Ruffhouse Records in 1992. The single was originally meant for the film soundtrack of Zebrahead, but ended up becoming a part of his classic debut album, Illmatic, in 1994. “Halftime” was produced by Large Professor of Main Source, who featured Nas on their album for his first verse ever on “Live at the Barbeque.”

“Halftime” features boom bap production with loud, hard hitting drums and a sampled loop. His quick paced flow fits in three long verses over the instrumental with tight lines like:

Now wait, another dose and you might be dead //
And I’m a Nike head, I wear chains that excite the feds. //

In addition, Nas shouts-out his late friend Willie “Ill Will” Graham, who was shot dead in 1992. He then displays his come up in rap by portraying a young version of himself afraid to grab the mic, but now the MC is experienced and “raps in front of more niggas than in the slave ships.”

Hearing “Halftime” on the film soundtrack, Columbia Records signed the young Queens-based MC to a record deal. This exposure crafted much hype surrounding Nas, which was to be filled with the release of Illmatic. To many knowledgeable hip hop people, the debut album is one of, if not the, greatest hip hop albums of all time.

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