1001 Songs Challenge,  1990s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #795: It Ain’t Hard to Tell (1994)

On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.

My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.

I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.

So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…


Nas – It Ain’t Hard to Tell (1994)

It Ain’t Hard to Tell – Wikipedia

” It Ain’t Hard to Tell” is the second single and last track from American rapper Nas’ debut album . Although the track was technically the second single on the album, it was the first single to be released after the album was pressed in 1994.


Lyrics (via Genius)
Learn more about this song (via Genius)


Welcome to 1994, dear reader. Our journey draws ever closer to its conclusion but we still have just over 200 songs to go. We leave the Tuva Republic and make our way back to the US and to New York. Nas began his career in 1989 but his debut album, Illmatic, did not appear until 1994. We pick up the story there with the album now in the stores and a new single in the charts by the name of It Ain’t Hard to Tell

Lyrically complex, full of metaphor, literary and cultural references, It Ain’t Hard to Tell boasts three intricate verses from Nas with no chorus. The man don’t need no repetition here. The song appears to be Nas describing himself and boasting of his exploits. He commands the microphone, wows the crowds, can take down Medusa from Greek myths, sounds like he may carry a gun and drugs as well. Nas is confident of his lyrical ability, his stage presence. He’s a general badass, and by the end of the track he finds himself incredulous that no one is willing to try and silence him for these words he espouses to his fans should land someone in prison.

I recall the name Nas but my limited knowledge of hip hop meant I was not familiar with his work. I was immediately drawn to the background music here in It Ain’t Hard to Tell for it is a sample of Human Nature, one of Michael Jackson’s best and most underrated tracks in my opinion. Nas’ debut album was critically acclaimed though sales and chart performance were not as good as the record company had hoped for. No matter, the album is now regarded as one of the best and most significant in hip hop history giving Nas an enduring legacy. Well done, clever wordsmith.


Favourite songs so far:

The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)

Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)

The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)

The Doors – The End (1967)

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)

Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977)

Ultravox – Vienna (1980)

Tracy Chapman – Fast Car (1988)

U2 – One (1991)

Suede – Animal Nitrate (1993)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

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