ILLMATIC - TWENTY: In recent months i've gotten a few e-mails asking what I'm working on. My response has been what it almost always is — I have several pieces in various stages of completion, but I'm waiting until i get some inspiration.

Usually that inspiration comes while I'm listening to music. This piece, however, came about through a conversation with a good friend of mine who mentioned that he bought a 20th anniversary edition of the CLASSIC Souls of Mischief album, '93 'til Infinity that included, among added extras, an illuminated Hiero logo on the case.

As an OG HipHop connoisseur, I don't understand why anyone would buy an anniversary box set of something they, if they are real HipHop heads, should already have in their collections. But to each his own.

So during that discussion, I recalled hearing about a special 20th anniversary edition of Nas' Illmatic. Now if you were born in the '90s or later, then by all means, run out and but this. However, if you were born in the '70s or '80s or earlier and you don't already own the CD or cassette or vinyl, your HipHop credentials are already in question.

But enough negativity. This piece is intended as a tribute to one of the absolute, unquestionable, greatest albums in HipHop history — Illmatic.

So I figured the best way to go about it was not to re-imagine and reinterpret the cover, but instead approach the entire piece as if the items were pulled from a time capsule, buried in 1994.

So I depicted the unfolded Illmatic cassette cover that, unlike the CD cover, features a tear at the bottom of Nas' childhood portrait. Full disclosure — I have a fondness for my still ridiculously large collection of HipHop cassettes — mainly because it is physical verification of just how long I've been appreciative of quality HipHop.

I also re-created the 5-mic review from The Source (a magazine that was THE authoritative HipHop periodical ... back when that actually carried some weight.)

The featured lyrics are taken from the last verse of The World Is Yours. I tried to give the letters a gold leafed effect. It worked a little better on the darker portion of the print than the lighter area, but I am satisfied with the overall look, including the fading and color I was able to achieve to create the look of aged and faded newsprint or paper.

With the timing, I suppose this is a tribute/anniversary piece, but at least it doesn't light up!