In The Mix: Get down with Chris Liebing and Nas' pioneering sound

Chris Liebing – The Boiler Room: The energy is palpable at the Boiler Room in Moscow, Russia, as Chris Liebing begins his fluid set. “All around,” echoes and reverberates throughout the club as fans crowd and begin to video tape the Frankfurt-based techno DJ.

The pulsing beat is dragged out for quite some time until it begins to speed up, and build into a long anticipated eruption of contagious techno-house music. The crowd cannot help but go absolutely crazy to this beat.

Liebing is energetic, relaxed, and smiling throughout the entirety of his performance. He employs a strategy of using one-worded repetition. Words such as, “no sleep, another club,” are recited over a strong bass beat, giving them large effect.

With each track, the DJ’s sound and crowd intensifies in terms of quality and energy. There is not one moment where the music moves at a slow or calmer tempo.

At about 44 minutes in, Liebing starts to turn things up a bit. The female fans get very close to him preforming, almost invading his personal space. One woman in particular is bothersome and inconsiderate during Liebing’s special performance. But he keeps his cool the entire time and it does not seem to bother him at all. Putting on a good show and making great music are visibly of the utmost importance to him. 

At about 50 minutes, the DJ adds a great amount of variation in sound, deviating from his safe, constant techno beat. The set continues to improve with time. Liebing and the crowd give off a relaxed and natural feel, making the atmosphere very authentic.

Nas – Illmatic: Illmatic, released in 1994, was Nas’ debut album ranking at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 list. At first, the album sales fell short, but eventually people understood that this album set the standard for rap in years to come. The album is essentially about his experiences growing up in the Queensbridge Houses in New York.

The opening interlude called ‘The Genesis,’ includes a series of different conversations that begin the impressive album. A snippet from Wild Style begins the track, "Stop fucking around and be a man!" The track then includes "The Subway Theme" from Wild Style. The conversations and scattered chatter sound great against the enjoyable hip-hop beat. This track establishes a great hook for the notorious 90s album.

The track ‘N.Y. State of mind,’ is a great, concrete establishment of the skills Nas is about to showcase in this 10 track album. Nas’ voice and words are effortless and powerful. With a very catchy and simple beat to follow, his rhymes are impressive and progressive. His words take us in a number of different directions, but successfully connect the song to one concrete idea: The N.Y. State of Mind.

‘Life’s a Bitch,’ a total classic, has more of a melodic sound, but harder raps and faster syncopation. “Life’s a bitch and then ya die that’s why we get high cause ya never know when ya gonna go,” says AZ, who introduces Nas’ yet again effortless flow. The tune ends with a delightful incorporation of jazz.

‘The World is Yours,’ proves how Nas perfectly blends rapping and R&B. He is such a talented rapper, with an incredible sense of rhythm and blues. Not many rappers can be characterized as soulful, but Nas is one of those artists. The tune is graceful with piano and distorted DJ scratching.

Another track in the album that secures the same strategies is ‘Memory Lane.’ This track is one of the 10 that has the best producing qualities. This song has a friendly and approachable beat, with Nas continuing to spit absolute bars. It sounds as though an organ is used in the production, allowing the tune to become more upbeat.

‘Halftime,’ is one of the songs that include a series of horn instruments. Again, Nas’ lyrics are strong, well put together, and most of all, incredibly clever. His tone remains simple, but intimidating in a way that most rappers are still visibly trying hard to achieve. Nas has the power to create music that works for parties, cruising around in the car, or simply hanging out.

‘One Love,’ another track that begins with background noise and conversation, is more deep in terms of lyrics. His lyrical content here tells a story that is broken up by a different voice reciting “One Love.” Nas discusses the nature of his neighborhood, the people who lived in the area, and their life choices. He gives honorable mentions to his friends, or former friends with a message for all of these people he spoke of: One Love.

“Represent, represent,” echoes throughout the second to last track in the album, conveniently named ‘Represent.’ Nas discloses some of his past like several of these tracks, over a warm and consistent beat. The artist uses passionate curse words and an informal mix of talking, preaching and of course great rapping.

‘It Ain’t Hard to Tell’ is arguably the hardest track in terms of Nas’ delivery and quality of words. The production behind this track is impressive and noticeably better than most songs in illmatic. What a great way to end the unbelievable album released in '94.