What do you follow up Illmatic, one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time, with? For Nas, the answer was It Was Written, the Queensborough MC's most commercially successful effort, on which he ditches the "urban bleakness" of his classic debut and "toes into the world of mafioso rap." Nas' sophomore effort is often times slept on, but only because he had dropped Illmatic two years prior. Production from Trackmasters, Dr. Dre, L.E.S., Havoc of Mobb Deep, and DJ Premier plus more, and guest appearances from "JoJo" Hailey of K-Ci & JoJo as well as the Firm! Here's the og Lab review: Let me get a little old man music critical/reminiscent on this one for a moment. When I was coming up on hip-hop in the late '80s and '90s, one of the apexes of my life was the release of Illmatic in 1993. To keep it simple, the album was perfect, it changed everything and Nas was another piece in the super-promising galaxy of individuals. And then '94 came, shit was still all good. Mostly. '95 came and some “mistakes” were made. Faith was a little lost. '95 came and people were making records that you heard the first single of and didn’t even think about buying the album; whereas two years before every single record that came out was on your want list. Not that there wasn’t good music being made, but too many of my heroes were falling on the sword. Pop music was still highly frowned upon, mind you. '96 came and I gave up hope. Didn’t even really check for hip-hop at all for like 3 or 4 years. I know I’m not the only one. So long story short, when this dropped, led by “Street Dreams,” and “If I Ruled The World,” me and a whole bunch of other people let up a big “fuck that” stink. But I was a hard headed, close-minded young dick back then. And this album is a lot better in hindsight. Sure it’s no Illmatic, but there’s some good shit on here: “The Message" (the Sting-sampling joint), “Affirmative Action” with AZ, “Take It In Blood,” and “Nas Is Coming” among others. 15 tracks total, double vinyl
- gatefold jacket
- music label: Get On Down 2019
reviewed by cam sooke 10/2019
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