Nas - It Was Written (1996)
"Damn these chains, man!" The first album that made me think I was a serious hip hop fan. Not sure if I ever became one, but I do like to pretend.
- •Album IntroHooked from the moment it opens with Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come".
- •The Message"Lex with TV sets, the minimum" Nas says inspired by Jay Z. He got rid of his Lexus after seeing Jay with his. Oh boys and their toys.
- •Street DreamsI forgive the lame ass rapping of The Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams" chorus, although the line "everybody is looking for something" became the most universal lyric ever.
- •I Gave You PowerThis album was my first introduction to Nas and with this song I heard a storyteller more than I heard a rapper. And with that I became a life long fan.
- •Watch Dem N****sTempo was a little to "baby making" for my liking. Saving grace was that it wasn't a "baby making" track. Points awarded to limiting the use of Foxy Brown.
- •Take It In The BloodThere were so many words and references I didn't understand on this track. Sergio Tachinni, Mumia, even Earth Wind and Fire (yeah I didn't know!)
- •Nas is ComingProduced by Dr. Dre and you can hear it. Calling out the ridiculous East Coast/West Coast shit. (East Coast all the way).
- •Affirmation ActionI really liked this track and I hate guest spots on rap songs because there is this unspoken rule that the guests' verses can't be better than the song's owner and that's limiting. I don't want to hear mediocre verses.
- •The Set UpI read that Nas was high and changed some lyrics and it didn't make sense. He won't say what it is but I love trying to figure it out.
- •Black Girl LostI think I liked this when I was younger. Older me is not okay with lyrics like "you should be ashamed of yourself, the way you carry yourself".
- •SuspectSimple production. I love it! I'm onboard again but all is not forgiven.
- •ShootoutsAgain another beat I love. The mixtape vibe is there. So glad they made a full track out of this.
- •Live N**** RapFeaturing Mobb Deep. Enough said.
- •If I Ruled the WorldNas had to be talked into this track, with having the hook sung. I respect this so much because I am not a fan of hooks (there's a lot about hip hop I don't like and only some are mentioned in this list). As much I dislike a hook, this is perfection. Lauryn has the cred needed to keep this from being sentimental.