July 02, 2021

Nas "It Was Written" (July 2, 1996, Elements)

How do you follow up on an album like "Illmatic"? The answer is... you don't. There'll only be one debut from Nas and that featured an all-star production, with Nas being hailed as a street prophet. In my mind, "Illmatic" was kind of an accumulation of all Hip Hop up to that point... But you know what? We've moved on since then. It's now '96 and Nasir Jones is back the only way he knows how... talkin' that QB slang and manhandling tracks like only he can. There's no question about his rhyme skills because any one who says his lyrics ain't fly is frontin' or maybe they just don't know what's up! However, n!gguz around my way were concerned with the production... This project was handled by the Trackmasters, which was a big let down to a few heads. I'm sayin' the tracks are fly enough but they weren't exactly done by Primo, Pete Rock or Extra P. Primo did get to flex on "I Gave You Power," which was nice, but not enough though. With this in mind, let me also say that the Trackmasters production sells like a mutha'... ask Biggie. They got that funky "club-friendly" shit. Which means that for every hardrock dubbing the CD off their DJ potna, there's gonna be two crossover fans buying it at full price. So what's the odds that "It Was Written" sells more than "Illmatic"? Pretty good odds. Maybe that's what Mr. Jones was contemplating. I don't know, I ain't chatted with him lately, whatever. Though how you gonna playa hate this kid, who inspired us all first time around? To put it straight, this is a more-than-solid sophomore effort from Nas. The bangin' tracks for me are "Street Dreams", "Take It In Blood", "Shoot-Outs", "The Message" etc... But eh yo, there's probably only like two or three songs I'd leave out! In other words, I'm sayin' you should have this album for yourself, it's definitely worth it. I think it would have been so easy for him to come out with an all-star production team, the second time around, but shit... that n!gguh already got all the props he can handle. I think now he needs that lucci!! "It Was Written" is fat enough for my dollars. - Elements Mag. Revisit It Was Written below... don't sleep on "Affirmative Action," too.

Full review and It Was Written art by M_DailySketches below...