July 02, 2016

Nas "It Was Written" (Hip Hop Connection, 8/96)

"The question remains - is it too much to pin our hopes on one man? We know Nas has the talent but lest we forget, this Queensbridge original is still young. Still, you can't help thinking Nas has the character to unify our increasingly disparate community. He knows that It Was Written will get the microscope treatment big time... Nas' Illmatic was a hip-hop milestone that Trackmasterz, L.E.S., Premier (again) and Dr. Dre are charged with emulating and then some. Columbia's confidence for their prodigy meant Illmatic bore the production of the best. It's a hard act and it'll take time before the effects really kick in to follow, but early indications point to success - Premier performs his magic again and Dre finally snuffs out rumors that he's a one-trick kid..."

"Yet the focus has to be on the lyrics. On It Was Written Nas' thoughtfulness and intelligence continues to shine, his flow is just as intoxicating as it was way back on 'Live At The BBQ.' Favored topics revolve around keeping your wits about you, keeping your nose clean and keeping it real. 'If I Ruled The World' is a familiar flight of fantasy about the perfect life while 'Silent Murder' samples Soul II Soul and catches Nas urging his brethren to "keep a lid on your tongue" when hauled in by the constabulary. As ever, the welfare of his peers remains paramount, an assumption cemented by 'Affirmative Action,' where Nas' Firm of Foxy Brown, AZ and newcomer Cormega exchange verses with their illustrious cohort. It all confirms that this isn't Illmatic II but then it couldn't be. The world's kept on moving on since then and now there's a lot riding on Nas. We need him to do well again. Will he? Maybe, but only time will tell. Whatever's written, it's now down to the likes of you."