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.
  1. 1.
    Album Intro
    Hooked from the moment it opens with Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come".
  2. 2.
    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.
  3. 3.
    Street Dreams
    I 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.
  4. 4.
    I Gave You Power
    This 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.
  5. 5.
    Watch Dem N****s
    Tempo 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.
  6. 6.
    Take It In The Blood
    There 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!)
  7. 7.
    Nas is Coming
    Produced by Dr. Dre and you can hear it. Calling out the ridiculous East Coast/West Coast shit. (East Coast all the way).
  8. 8.
    Affirmation Action
    I 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.
  9. 9.
    The Set Up
    I 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.
  10. 10.
    Black Girl Lost
    I 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".
  11. 11.
    Suspect
    Simple production. I love it! I'm onboard again but all is not forgiven.
  12. 12.
    Shootouts
    Again another beat I love. The mixtape vibe is there. So glad they made a full track out of this.
  13. 13.
    Live N**** Rap
    Featuring Mobb Deep. Enough said.
  14. 14.
    If I Ruled the World
    Nas 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.