Nas has definitely made his impression in the hip hop world, releasing classics like Illmatic and albums such as Nastradamus and The Firm. His style has been praised for stepping away from the more predictable lines of the hip hop scene with conversation style rapping and the mastery of internal rhyme. It Was Written did receive criticism however for going in the mainstream direction, yet the album still illustrates Nas’s genius on the microphone and should be listened to. Released in 1996, being Nas’s best selling release, It Was Written features fourteen tracks that remind us of why Nas is a great MC.
The second track The Message begins with an instrumental picture of a sunset, getting ready for whatever the day brings, like waking up. Nas is telling you that one would be wise not to test him to see how far he will go. He is letting people know that he is the established king. Diamond rocks, guns, threats to those who do not pay him convey a scene of the streets in which he is a part of. The title of this track is very fitting for what it is saying. He ends the track by giving a shout out to his people worldwide and in New York.
Nas Is Coming automatically gives you a hint of what you will be listening to in the album’s seventh track produced by Dr. Dre. This heavy, dark and haunting track begins with a conversation with Dr. Dre and Nas that sets the tone for this song. You can really hear Nas’s sophisticated language that punches with intensity and conviction. Nas delivers references to the pyramids and the Nile River. He will creep up on you before you can react and deliver a shot. Making money and getting paid is also mentioned along with many other messages in this song.
Joel “Jo-Jo” Hailey joins Nas in the album’s tenth track Black Girl Lost. The hook and ad libs with Joel Hailey are top notch and add to the feel that the song is projecting. This song is basically about a woman who possibly becomes too much to handle but is still beautiful and enticing. He is tired of playing the games with this girl who wants to run up in clubs and just have a good time. She indeed loves the thugs and has the men addicted to her.
The beat in Live Nigga Rap is definitely on the diabolic side with a constant angular sound that moves in a steady rhythm in the thirteenth track of It Was Written. Featuring Mobb Deep, this song begins with a gunshot and seems to depict criminal activity involving the FBI. Mobb Deep is here to represent himself and his set in this track. This song is like a street anthem in which they are giving props to their crew and striking terror in those who oppose them by bringing out their piece in threatening fashion.
It Was Written definitely takes you back to vintage Nas, although he is still blazing the rap game with his lyricism. Regardless of how others compare this album to Illmatic, this is still a gem and takes you back. This album gives us a nice selection of performers such as AZ, Foxy Brown, Lauryn Hill and others. The effect that this album had on the public was huge and I feel it was important in helping to promote Nas’s career even more. It Was Written still received many favorable praise from fans and critics and it is definitely worth listening to……with an open mind.