Hip Hop’s Magnum Opus: The Birth Chart of Nas’ “Illmatic”

©2016 by Sagittarian Mind Consulting

How do you begin talking about a masterpiece? I mean… where do you start? First of all I make no apologies for stating my personal opinion that I think Nas’ Illmatic is one of the best (if not THE best) Hip-Hop albums ever created.

Many of us still want to know what the young, 19 year old upstart from Queensbridge was thinking during the making his debut album, which would go on to be critically acclaimed as a standard for Emcees everywhere.

With a heavy hitting “dream team” production from DJ Premier, Large Professor, Pete Rock, Q-TIP and LES, the red carpet was rolled out for Nas, and he delivered in such a colossal way that Illmatic will forever go on the list of albums that set a  blueprint for hip hop greatness.

There’s no question in my mind that Illmatic was needed in the universe right at the time it came out, and it embodied the qualities of that moment, as we’ll see by looking at its birth chart.

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It’s apropos that the introduction to Illmatic is titled “The Genesis”, which is a powerful expression of its 29 degree Aries Sun.  This album signals a sense of “coming into being” and new beginnings,   especially for the New York hip-hop scene.

In addition, Aries at the 29 degree mark suggests the height of competition. There’s a glaring illumination of potential for a colossal impact in the world as reflected by its 10th house position near the top of the birth chart.

Illmatic’s Aries Sun suggests being ignited by the fuel of “champion” or warrior energy where aspirations are centered on winning and being the best. There’s no doubt that the cosmos confirms Illmatic being a pioneering album with aims toward being number one. Nas’ masterpiece was given a coveted “5 Mic” rating (suggesting a “perfect album”) from “The Source” Magazine, who at that time, held significant weight in the area of critical reviews of hip-hop recordings.

In the VH-1 documentary “Driven” MC Serch described Nas’ success with Illmatic as having “Hit 10 Home Runs.”

(photo: dj premier, q-tip, nas & large professor) source : ambrosiaforheads.com

When Mercury and Mars, which are also in Aries, are added to the equation, there’s a “push” factor which undeniably holds the potential to force others into competition and prompt them to apply their will at a heightened level of assertion.

In fact, there have been numerous interviews from DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Large Professor, Q-Tip and LES which discuss the level of competition amongst producers in the making of Illmatic. One could easily argue that this is the finest group of hip-hop producers assembled for one album.

With the Sun’s powerful developmental connections to both Uranus and Neptune, we’re witnessing an album whose originality and genius, borne out of rebellion takes center stage. Nas, in stating his feelings about the recording of Illmatic said that he had to tell a story which was “all his own” (Sun-Uranus). This vibe is coupled with a poetic, flowing self-expression which provides inspiration through vivid imagery and the symbolic painting of pictures (Sun-Neptune).

(photo : nas and a.z.) source: stopthebreaks.com

According to Peter Rosenberg of the radio station Hot 97 in New York, Nas was hailed a “Hip-Hop Messiah of mythological proportions.” (Sun-Neptune) upon the release of this album.

Illmatic’s Leo Moon reflects the light of the Aries Sun through a personality which is fulfilled through gaining notice, praise and validation from others.

There was a big buzz surrounding Illmatic, so it wasn’t just an album that came from out of the blue and snuck up on people. Nas also mentioned in an interview , sponsored by Google that he felt those hip-hop icons that had come before him, and had given so much to the art, HAD to like his album in order for him to feel complete. He wanted the likes of Kool G Rap, MC Shan, etc… those icons that he may just happen to run into at a local bodega in Queensbridge, to tell him “good job”. Nas also mentioned the fact that his career could’ve been over if his album didn’t receive the “co-sign” of those who were respected in hip-hop circles.

Also appropriate for the Astrological signature of Illmatic is its Cancer Ascendant. Nas’ childhood picture (Cancer), graces the covering (Ascendant) of the album, along with his roots and foundation, Queensbridge projects, in the backdrop. Also, within the fold of the liner notes, there’s a picture of his childhood friends as they sit on a park bench. Illmatic is filtered through the lens of nostalgia, with songs like “Memory Lane”, and it also invokes an emotional response as a focal part of its identity expression.

Finally, it’s Cancer rising speaks to a musical lineage, as Nas’ father, Olu Dara, a jazz musician joins him by lending his musical talents on the LES produced track “Life’s a Bitch”. Not only did this track highlight biological family, but also artistic family, as it gave birth to A.Z’s career, and he’s gone on to become a hip-hop heavyweight in his own right.

In the aforementioned VH-1 documentary “Driven”, Peter Rosenberg stated that the release of Illmatic put hip-hop in a position to be taken seriously as an art form, which it’s Pisces MC flanked by Saturn strongly suggests: Not only serious art on the world’s stage, but A standard bearer (Saturn) for music  from a universal standpoint (Pisces).

Looking at Illmatic’s 5th House, which outlines the domain in which both artistic and physical “children” are created, we see circumstances which surround birth, death and the underbelly and ills of life. The themes which pervaded this album weren’t always pretty, yet there were also benefits and artistic riches to be unearthed from tumultuous circumstances on the path to meeting Illmatic’s ultimate destiny (Jupiter, North Node and Pluto in Scorpio).

The death came before the making of Illmatic when Nas’ best friend, Willie Graham, better known as “Ill Will” was shot and killed. According to Nas’ brother, Jungle, in the VH-1 documentary, “Driven”, this occurred on May 23, 1992. This had a profound effect on Nas and would later serve as fuel for a powerful and transformative creativity which connected to his self-expression. The birth would occur on June 15, 1994, a couple of months after Illmatic’s official release date, and that would be his daughter Destiny.

Using whole sign houses, we can easily see that the 3rd/9th house MC/IC axis of Virgo and Pisces suggests that on all of Illmatic’s tracks although Nas is speaking with exactness and precision (Virgo) about his experiences in his immediate environment (3rd house), the cosmic design is to balance that so a much larger sphere of the world (9th house) can relate for Universal (Pisces) understanding.

With the Taurus/Scorpio nodal axis, Illmatic, as a work of art had to find a way to make money (Taurus), while projecting a deeper significance (Scorpio) for hip hop culture.  Although critically acclaimed, the album didn’t immediately catapult to the heights of platinum status as did may more commercially recognizable albums. Nas’ brother Jungle stated that Nas’ advance for Illmatic was a mere $17,000 at the time, so he was forced to, at that time to consider a balance between regenerating (Scorpio) hip-hop and material comforts (Taurus).  In many eyes, Illmatic (and Nas) wasn’t/weren’t receiving the return on investment which it deserved.

Fortunately for the hip-hop faithful, Illmatic is an album which is being discussed 20 + years from its release, and for Nas, it’s enabled him to integrate the works’ nodal axis on the strength of a brilliant display of artistry thereafter.

Representin’ is Illmatic.

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Venus-Neptune Aspects & Erotic Fantasy

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From an Astrological perspective, it’s understood that it’s impossible to reduce a planet to exclusively ONE theme or function. This article is written from that perspective.

Although the planet Venus isn’t strictly about sex, it’s definitely part of the sexual “network” and included in that network  is the EROTIC.

Erotic is defined as: “relating to or tending to arouse sexual desire or excitement.”

In combining Venus with the planet Neptune, which is connected to one’s imaginative faculties and that which is largely invisible, we have a seductive and enthralling combination when it comes to sex. One which is frequently done, but is discussed less, and that’s sexual fantasies.

For those with Venus-Neptune aspects within their birth chart, their sexual life can manifest as a bit of a paradox: one is yearning for the most spiritual and transcendent type of love which includes unconditional acceptance and the revelation that there is a greater, all-unifying reason to be with a partner.

However, simultaneously, one’s mind and imaginative apparatus can be willing to entertain fantasies which have no limits or boundaries involved in what excites or titillates.

In other words, all of the typical constructs that are solidly in place in what we call REAL life, begin to diminish within the framework of the Venus-Neptune imaginative constructs.  There seems to be a correlation with enhanced arousal and free-flowing  ideas where sex and eroticism are concerned.

The way Venus-Neptune aspects can operate in a constructive sense is that a person has the opportunity to explore their sexual and erotic landscape on a broad level and discover that it’s connected to much more than the physical act itself. In fact, one may feel as if they don’t even NEED to engage physically with another person and the rich carousel of the mind will do just fine.

On the flip side of the coin, one must be careful not to succumb to the deceptive portion of Neptune which manifests as a convincing that there’s no value in the power of the tactile.

When this aspect is navigated well,  physicality, sensuality and a fluid imagination all take their rightful place and get their just due.

Photo: pinterest.com

Virgo Sun, Pisces Moon

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When a Virgo Sun and a Pisces Moon are combined in an individual birth chart, there’s immense potential for self-improvement and personal refinement via the use of one’s intuition and participation in the intangible realms of life.  The solar/lunar synthesis represents the invisible made visible and the ideal made real.

Very few things are more satisfying than to shape a concept or a dream and then give it physical form so that it manifests with solid physicality. This combination offers that opportunity.

The type of fuel this person requires is discriminating and practical; complete with high octane analytics.  It’s the dissecting of systems or people in service of more efficient operation.

The solar energy is reflected in a lunar personality which has an emotional need to assemble all of the pieces together and bridge any divisions between themselves and the spiritual source from which they originated.

The key to navigating this blend successfully is to shape inspirational and creative ideals into functional form; to not only visualize but to actualize.

A dysfunctional expression of this combination can suggest more dreaming and less doing, or the feeling that inspiration, without perspiration or preparation will be enough.

It’s important for natives with this blend to understand that floating on feelings of utopian bliss can only take you a portion of the distance you need to go to engineer your visions. If nothing more is done, you may be chasing castles in the sky or living in a fool’s paradise.

Conversely, the portals that contain the fluid and boundless flow of intuition must be kept open and not overly stifled via the allowance of the hyper-logical, or the straitjacket of conceptual incarceration,  into one’s creative realm.

Photo: iBelieve

Saturn-Ascendant Transits : “Mature Lenses”

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Clear definition and organization of personal direction.

Serious business & personal mastery.

Maturation of the “lens” through which you process experience.

Many of us have read ad nauseum, the narrative of Saturn portrayed as the great malefic. We’ve been instructed to brace ourselves and fear the worst, and consider it to be a victory if we evade its evil rays until major transits involving the planet pass.

Taking ownership of and responsibility for the filter through which we perceive and process our experiences isn’t a job for the faint of heart. It’s those individuals who are steadfastly dedicated to doing the hard work of refining, questioning, doubting and earnestly aiming to see clearly that benefit from Saturn’s transiting contacts.

If you’re a person who regularly veers toward the path of least resistance, or what will demand the LEAST out of you then you may find Saturn’s transits to be sharply difficult and demanding.

However, if you’re looking to stretch yourself, suspending the comfortable for the developmental and what might or could be for what IS, you have a sturdy and reliable cosmic partner to work with.

When transiting Saturn makes contact with the Ascendant, you’re being asked to re-structure and re-organize the vehicle you use to navigate the world. The calling is to temper and refine your approach in order to draw more mature and wise observations through a serious and authentic self-presentation.

It’s paramount to remember that contemplating a more disciplined and focused approach to living isn’t designed to detract anything from you. In fact, the purpose is to institute a greater degree of self-integration so that what you think, say and do becomes more congruent.

In order to navigate this transit with maximum effectiveness, you may find it necessary to engage in solemn periods of solitude where you get real with yourself. Acquiring the patience to extract the genuine meaning, and clearing out the b.s. and excess where people, places and things are concerned can take you a long way toward realizing your essential core; complete with all of your strengths, victories, foibles and follies in tow.

If you’re expecting an overnight cure for issues you’ve been grappling with for years, or a quick fix solution for backed up neurosis, you’re barking up the wrong tree. The willingness to delay short-term gratification and approach life with an internal confidence and commitment to reaping long-term benefits from your efforts is what you need.

The understanding of pain, not necessarily as perpetual agony, but as a teacher and informer of your limits and boundaries can re-frame your perspective toward this cycle in your life.

You’re being asked to learn about where you end and other people begin and to understand that their feelings aren’t necessarily going to be yours and vice versa. Harnessing the ability to move forward in your actions without consensus will be instrumental in your development.

Often, we have a tendency to mask our pain, doubts and fears through overcompensation, or immersion in the areas of life which are sure to numb or desensitize us. If you want to use this transit in a growth oriented manner, allowing yourself to identify, feel, and release yourself from the pain associated with troublesome relationships or concepts which have controlled, blocked or hemmed you in from a stable and concrete self-image is essential.

A portion of Saturn’s reality principle involves discovering everything we ARE and everything we ARE NOT. To understand that living in truth naturally allows for more accurate assessments of our character. To be able to celebrate your progress and also re-strategize on your missteps.

In addition during this time of Saturn contacting the Ascendant, the need to “live loudly” has the potential to give way to a more self-reflective humility that welcomes the wisdom gained through first hand experiences. Whatever your life “slogan’ may have been up to this point; you can embrace the responsibility that comes with actually LIVING IT as a testament to all that you proclaim. As a matter of fact, if you’re intent on leaving your comfort zone, you have the potential to bear the standard in accordance with what you wish to exemplify.

Through consistency and reliability you can build a solid reputation. Your rewards include the possibility of an increased status and recognition for your personal achievements, but more importantly the satisfaction of knowing you’re operating from an internal locus of control and a center fortified with integrity. Your main objective is to serve as your own support and evaluation system, irrespective of applause, sour faces and the like.

This transit qualifies as a test of endurance. It raises questions surrounding your willingness be self-reliant in the shaping of your self-projection into the world. It’s a time, not to point fingers at everyone else, but to carefully examine your reactions to the reality that life is revealing to you. If you find it to be unpleasant or disconcerting, it’s your job to investigate and identify the root causes of such reactions.

Saturn not only connected with delays and obstacles, but also the level of fortitude and perseverance we’re willing to employ to combat them. So, while there may be challenges, they rarely surface independent of the possibility of meeting them in constructive and meaningful ways.

In his classic “Cosmos and Psyche” Richard Tarnas illustrates the multi-dimensional nature of Saturn’s symbolism:

Saturn governs the consequences of error, guilt, pessimism, inferiority, depression, deprivation; yet it also gives us the capacity for rigor, order, concentration, endurance, seriousness, fidelity, responsibility, maturity.”

Questions and themes concerning time expenditure also loom in the midst during this transit .You must consider asking yourself what, if anything of tangible or redeeming value is being produced as a result of where you choose to direct your focus.

How are you distributing your personal energies in relation to the seconds, minutes and hours that comprise your days?

In his ‘Saturnesque’ business classic “The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of The Learning Organization”, author Peter Senge outlines the concept of personal mastery, which is surely an appropriate and worthwhile focus for this transit.

According to Senge,

personal mastery is the discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively.” 

One of the major points of emphasis of transiting Saturn making contact with your Ascendant is to challenge you to integrate self-mastery as a daily practice. In other words, its concepts are designed to become an actual discipline for you

When mastery becomes incorporated as a way of life or process, rather than a passing moment or possession, there becomes a continual clarification and affirmation of what’s important to you and what you can do without. The questions you ask in order to evaluate your development center around whether the relationships and activities you’re currently choosing to engage in are in accordance with your overall vision and purpose.

Senge notes that people with a high level of personal mastery share several basic characteristics such as:

  1. They have a special sense of purpose that lies behind their visions and goals – for such a person, a vision is a calling rather than simply a good idea.
  2. They see “current reality” as an ally, not an enemy.
  3. They have learned how to perceive and work with forces of change rather than resist those forces.
  4. They are deeply inquisitive, committed to continually seeing reality more and more accurately.
  5. They feel connected to others and life itself, yet sacrifice none of their uniqueness
  6. They feel as if they are part of a larger creative process, which they can influence but cannot unilaterally control.
  7. They Live in continual learning mode, acutely aware of their ignorance, incompetence and their growth areas
  8. They are deeply self- confident

As stated earlier, in order to benefit from any cycles concerning Saturn, you must be in it for the long haul. This gives you the time needed to define re-define, hone, sharpen, organize, shape and re-shape your long-term vision. Through all of the re-modeling, it’s still important to be clear about what type of “house” you actually want.

You can experience satisfying personal gains during this transit if you’re willing to put the time and energy into discovering exactly who you are and what you want. In addition committing yourself to truth, not as a final word or ultimate stop, but an internal promise to ferret out your own tactics of self-deception which keep you out of step with a more informative reality.

The potential for mastery awaits you, and that’s serious business.

References:

The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization” by Peter Senge (New York: Doubleday/Currency, ©1990)

Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View” by Richard Tarnas (Plume/Penguin Books, 2006)

 

Saturn -Midheaven (MC) Transits: Defining Your Place in The World

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 When Transiting Saturn contacts the MC, this can be used as an opportunity for focusing on and bringing greater structure and definition to your ultimate aims in life.

In most cases, these goals are intimately intertwined with our vocation, or what we may view as our  life’s “calling” , which is symbolized by the MC.  

The themes which you may be presented with during the length of this transit will undoubtedly consist of not only questions surrounding your willingness to commit, but also how hard (and practically) you’re willing to work and how disciplined you’re willing to be, which includes developing the outlook of delaying short term gratification for a more solid, substantial reward in the future.

Becoming ruthlessly honest with oneself about personal limitations is also a vital part of this transit.

Honestly seeking and gaining clarity about what you can realistically accomplish given the present circumstances is an indication of maturity. This is not the time to play silly games with yourself, but rather one to sober up and figure out where you wish to distribute your time and energy.

It’s important that you make it a point to devise a strategy which provides a solid foundation for your future endeavors. Responsibility, which is a keyword for Saturn simply means your “ability to respond”. So, the questions then become:

“In what manner do I wish to respond when it comes to solidifying my destiny in the world?”

“How can I clearly define my goals and my place in society?”

What you must know about this transit is that you won’t receive anything which is out of proportion with your efforts.  If you feel the need to cut corners and leave serious matters floating in the breeze than the results will surely reveal themselves in a way which glaringly highlights your need to make adjustments in that area of life. If this should transpire, the modus operandi is to consider this feedback from the universe of how you can become wiser and more skillful in addressing areas for development at the time they reveal themselves rather than passing them off as trivial.

The Saturn-MC transit is a great time to concretize yourself and work on a self-presentation that’s authentic as possible in the larger sphere of the world. You may find that this starts with a thorough examination of your upbringing. Keep in Mind that the MC/IC is an axis. So, in order for you to be successful in this endeavor, you must think about what needs to be preserved, and what also needs to be released regarding guidance you may have received from an authority figure in your life.

It may now be clear to you that parental, or other guidance was formed from a particular worldview which you may share a portion of, but you’re now learning to “parent” yourself and incorporate your own insights and experiences which will ultimately serve as your locus of control and guiding post for the rest of your life. The possibility also exists in becoming a parent in the literal sense.

One of the purposes of this period of time is to test you on how much of your public life, outer world and career has really been determined by your own definitions and how much has been dictated by societal mores, advising you what you should be when you grow up.

Ideally, NOW is the time in which you grow up and take a stand, sending the message to the world that you’re willing to ground yourself based on a definition of self, which is far from crystallized or rigid, but is sturdy enough to ward off those who wish to control you through their “fixed” image of you.

Now, your entire being must contain a fundamental center from which you operate. The key is to form a solid foundation which is the basis for providing direction, but also contains enough humility to consult with the wise and the trusted for periodic input when needed.

From a disordered perspective, this transit suggests fear and doubt of one’s capacity to gain influence in the larger world. Or, even anxiety behind taking on the responsibility of parenting. What could be developmental progress and gaining wisdom and maturity gets sidetracked into constant thoughts of lack. A feeling as if there’s not enough to go around and one is going to be left out of the equation of receiving the recognition they deserve.

It’s clear that one of the main areas of focus during this transit is prioritizing the actual work, over accolades which you may feel are warranted.  Planning with a clear head and a realistic vision about what and where you would like to “master” or “professionalize”, and the efforts that are required to get there is a productive use of this planetary passage.

You may be pleasantly surprised at the quality of the results, which will be directly reflective of your degree of personal integration and organization, as well as your attitude toward confronting and neutralizing obstacles which may appear along the road to self-actualization.

When successfully navigated, the efforts put forth t this time can lead to the heights of prominence, which from the traditional Saturnian point of view reflects a broader base of influence , authority and a significant increase in public trust because you’re now presenting yourself as someone who is undivided in thought, word and deed.

In order to be on friendly terms with Saturn, we must be willing to do things which will most likely make us uncomfortable. We must resist succumbing to what demands the least out of us and put forth the time and energy that’s worthy of our refinement. We must also ultimately own the quality of our endeavors. If there’s anything which we feel we’ve outgrown, or isn’t worthy of our time from a developmental perspective, the most constructive course of action would be to leave it alone.

The key is to emerge from this transit with a clear, explicit direction and the intestinal fortitude to serve as your own leader, and to let your example speak for itself.

*Note: I don’t specify the particular aspects to Saturn, as my focus is more on planetary contact, so any major aspect (conjunction, square, trine) is applicable as far as this transit is concerned.

Photo : William Klein Artnet

 

 

 

Virgo Sun, Leo Moon, Cancer Rising

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Within the combination of a Virgo Sun, Leo Moon and Cancer rising, the basic energy which stimulates the individual is that which comes with the process of refinement, analysis and self-improvement. Employing the skills of discernment in service of a greater ideal. Making an assessment of how parts may work together to keep themselves and others running more efficiently.
There’s a tendency to put energy towards making everyone and everything better and perfect a part of themselves and offer that as service to humanity. The Virgo Sun’s fuel is used by the Leo Moon to give form to a personality which needs to be appreciated, adored and admired. Someone who’s nourished by being seen as special and unique.  There’s an emotional need to have the core identity validated.In order  for this person to be truly fulfilled, The expression of creative talents must be an extension of this identity.

 

The world is seen through the filtering of the Cancer Ascendant: the sensitive, poetic and self-protective eyes of a nurturer.

This placement suggests a highly intuitive nature which is easily able to tap into emotional undercurrents and size up the general “vibe” of situations without a staunch and logic analysis.

Cancer rising is also capable of offering the purest form of warmth, feeling connection and listening response . However, it’s extremely vital to distinguish your feelings from those of others which whom you come into contact.

Dysfunction can occur when there’s an almost obsessive drive to meet the  emotional needs of others used solely as an escape from acknowledging the depth of your own.

Photo by Diddy Nadhiri from Pexels