From production to lyrics, every element of Illmatic makes it the greatest hip-hop album of all time. This is only made more impressive by the fact that almost no guest artists appear on the album, except for a single verse by AZ. Nas relied on himself to craft this album, rather than relying on the fame and skill of other rappers. Nas was just 20 when he made the album, but his complex and timid lyrics about growing up in the New York City projects masquerade as the words of a master. The album released in 1994. Since then, no album has been able to top it. Nas' ability to create the greatest hip-hop album of all time makes him the best rapper of all time.
Nas may have created one of the best hip hop albums of all time, but that does not make him the best rapper of all time. Nas' lack of consistency in releasing excellent albums demonstrates a "one-hit-wonder-esque" characteristic that bars him from claiming the title "greatest rapper of all time."