July 02, 2015

Nas "It Was Written" (The Source, 8/96)

"Let out his "cage" at a certain barbecue thrown by Extra P, Nas Escobar revealed himself as a rhyme monster to be reckoned with. Commanding a lyrical expertise matched only by a select few, he captured the collective imagination of a hip-hop world suffering from withdrawal and fiending for fresh talent... Since then, he's displayed a proclivity for complex rhyme structure and philosophical "ghetto" profundity which can easily earn him a label as the "Aristotle of Rap." Before its release, Nas' debut album, Illmatic was billed as an automatic hip-hop classic, and Nas jumped into the game highly touted as hip-hop's savior. Neither disappointed. Illmatic was a rhyme revolution coupled with a tight blend of beats created by some of the biz's top producers. The only problem hip-hop's greedy ass fans could point to was it was too short... It Was Written, Nas' second album, should shut all the "it was too short" whiners up for good... From beats to rhymes, It Was Written is a convention of some of hip-hop's hottest talents: Stretch, Primo, L.E.S., Havoc and, peep this, Dre on production; AZ, Foxy Brown, Mobb Deep and Cormega on the lyrical side." A lot of videos from "It Was Written" have since been taken down, so here's Street Dreams (remix); f#ck R. Kelly though.

"On It Was Written, Nas Escobar presents his audience with a more mature version of the man he started introducing on Illmatic. Though his rhyme style has not changed drastically, the themes, viewpoints and creative angles flaunted throughout the album are sublime. Nas reveals himself not only as a rhymer, but also as a thinker ... Nas, like most philosophers, explores the realm of ideas through stories, using example as a device to show rather than tell. For Nas, ghetto reality is a grisly one, held captive by confusion and death ... Unlike the overwhelming majority of rappers whose rhymes are as coherent as Busta Rhymes' clothes, Nas spews out line after line of lyrics so dependent on each other that, if written on paper, it reads like a short story. Indeed, It Was Written is an audio anthology of ghetto stories told by one of hip-hop's most prolific writers. If ever there was a straight up genius in hip-hop, par excellence, his name would have to be Nas. Not just a hip-hop artist or rhymer or celebrity, Nas Escobar is a hip-hop visionary." - Rap Pages, 8/96.