Two years prior to the release of Illmatic, Nas' debut single “Halftime” was released in 1992 from the Zebrahead soundtrack. The jazzy boom bap track was produced by Large Professor, who provided some background information on the recording of the track in an interview with XXL:

The session for “Halftime” was hot, ‘cause he was gettin’ his big chance. […] I had the beat already. And we sat there, cooled out a lil' bit. And he was takin' it easy, ‘cause he was like, “This is my turn now, and I’m gon’ make it count.”

An excerpt of Marc Lamont Hill’s superb essay about the song, “Critical Pedagogy Comes At Halftime: Nas As Black Public Intellectual,” can be found here.

Nas talked about the making of the “Halftime” song and music video: