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Nas’ masterpiece debut, Illmatic, widely considered to be the greatest rap album ever made, was a family affair.

On the intro track “Genesis,” Nas tried to school his young brother, Jungle, on the dopeness of the “Wild Style Subway Theme” and on “Life’s a Bitch”, their father Olu Dara came through to play cornet on the song’s outro.

The original plan for “Life’s a Bitch” was to sample Mtume’s 1983 song, “Juicy Fruit,” but the song’s producer L.E.S. forgot the record at home, so they opted for “Yearning for Your Love” by The Gap Band instead. “Juicy Fruit” would be sampled by Biggie for Ready to Die‘s lead single.

Featuring an exquisite verse and hook from AZ, who had never recorded before, “Life’s a Bitch” was a highlight on an album full of highlights. Olu Dara’s cornet solo on the end was just the icing on the cake.

Olu Dara: Well, I had my horn with me, and Nasir said, “Just play ‘Life’s A Bitch.’ Could you play a little at the end?” I remember his brother, Jungle, was there, and we had our Hennessy and our Champagne and everything.

An Oral History of Nas’ Classic Debut Album ‘Illmatic’ | XXL
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