It Was Written

Release date
2 Jul 1996
Running length
15 tracks
Running time


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    Track     Duration Listeners
1 Album Intro 2:50 54,455
2 The Message 3:54 221,642
3 Street Dreams 4:40 106,426
4 I Gave You Power 3:52 68,181
5 Watch Dem Niggas 4:04 56,394
6 Take It in Blood 4:48 63,884
7 Nas Is Coming 5:41 48,968
8 Affirmative Action 3:29 75,125
9 The Set Up 4:01 35,929
10 Black Girl Lost 4:23 42,690
11 Suspect 4:12 45,206
12 Shootouts 3:46 51,202
13 Live Nigga Rap 3:44 34,448
14 If I Ruled the World (Imagine That) 4:44 208,783
15 Silent Murder 3:24 17,103

About this album

It Was Written is the second studio album by American rapper Nas, released July 2, 1996 on Columbia Records in the United States. Following the moderate sales success of his acclaimed debut album, Illmatic (1994), Nas chose to focus his efforts in a more mainstream direction. Primarily produced by Trackmasters, it is a departure for him from the raw, underground tone of his debut album towards a more polished, mainstream sound. The album features mafioso and gangsta themes, and marks the first appearance of Nas’s short-lived supergroup The Firm, which included rappers Foxy Brown, AZ, and Cormega. The album proved to be Nas’s most commercially successful release, debuting at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart and selling 3 million copies worldwide. It also heralded Nas’s mainstream popularity

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  • GaryB123

    SimonePerrota, you eloquently described my sentiments exactly.

    2 Nov 2014 Reply
  • DickBigems

    Simone put it better than I ever could. Totally agree with everything he said.

    7 Jan 2014 Reply
  • maddsurgeon

    I like it a lot better than Illmatic just based on the production. The raps themselves don't impress much, though.

    1 Dec 2013 Reply
  • SimonePerrota

    It's frustrating that all of It Was Written's most conscious songs, bar one, are also it's most commercial songs. Joints like “Affirmative Action” and “Nas Is Coming” offer some reprieve from the usual but they’re played out and overblown. Another contemplative number or two in the vein of “I Gave You Power" or "Memory Lane" would have made quite a difference. Nas rarely sounds uncomfortable here (even though his relentless imagery/narration and fast-paced flows often impinge on the songwriting) but it’s hard to escape the sense that the pop flourishes AND Mafioso touches (or should I say smudges) were opportunistic and that calculation is too loud for me to label It Was Written a classic, let alone AS GOOD AS ILLMATIC (come on!). It's an 8.5/10 for me.

    21 Aug 2013 Reply
  • SimonePerrota

    Disappointing? No. Inferior to Illmatic? Yes. Even though the bulk of It Was Written's subject matter is Mafioso in tone and the content gritty, the album is crafted with a firm eye on what's selling... It's possible to find an equilibrium (as we saw with Reasonable Doubt) but It Was Written is a little top heavy and a naïve. A few beats suffer from overly-polished production and arrangements and the album's sound begins to trail off into monotony ever so slightly towards the end... As accomplished as Nas is on It Was Written, there's a discernible lack of variety topically. Almost the entire album is ingrained in the same territory (high-octane, often moral-laced accounts of shoot-outs, come-ups and criminal ties), which makes the exceptions, Black Girl Lost and If I Ruled The World (good tracks but cross-overs-in-waiting), sound jarring. Suddenly you’re taken from the street to a plush r&b club and back again. The sequencing doesn’t help either…

    21 Aug 2013 Reply
  • DickBigems

    I don't think that's the average opinion of this album based on this shoutbox.

    5 Aug 2013 Reply

    Now so far the AVERAGE opinion is that this a disappointing sophomore album after Illmatic, but damn so far this is every bit as good!

    27 Jul 2013 Reply
  • DavidCelaya


    24 Dec 2012 Reply
  • gonzeaux

    Basically Written slays Doubt. [2]

    29 Nov 2012 Reply
  • gonzeaux

    There's like a claustrophobic flow on this, he doesn't let any space happen between the words, especially on cuts like Take It In Blood. I think he just sounds less confident than on Illmatic... but that's due to the production as well, it's moody. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't but with tracks like The Message and Watch Dem Niggas this is some pretty good shit overall, don't know why so many people were disappointed in it when it came out

    29 Nov 2012 Reply
  • DickBigems

    vv Exactly right.

    24 Aug 2012 Reply
  • SimonePerrota

    Reasonable Doubt > It Was Written. It's fresher and the production doesn't lag towards the end...

    17 Aug 2012 Reply
  • DickBigems

    Though it's a really good album and one of the better ones by Nas, it's composition was sort of gimmicky in nature.

    16 Aug 2012 Reply
  • buddamunk

    Watch Dem Niggas >>>>>>>

    4 Aug 2012 Reply
  • Solidusgear

    One of the best hip hop albums ever

    3 May 2012 Reply
  • reort

    lol @ someone saying Reasonable Doubt is better than It Was Written ... The Message, I Gave You Power, Take It In Blood, Suspect, If I Ruled The World >>>>>> ... This album is NOT for people with Cashmere Thoughts ..

    6 Apr 2012 Reply
  • rogueguy94


    28 Jan 2012 Reply
  • nialldapoet

    Overall this album isnt as good as Illmatic, but I Gave You Power is my favourite nas song ever, well 2nd only to one love.

    21 Nov 2011 Reply
  • MCNasirJones

    Nas Ratings Best To Worst 1:Illmatic 10/10 Classic 2:Lost Tapes 10/10 Classic 3:It Was Written Classic 4:Stillmatic Classic 9.9/10 5:Gods Son 9.2/10 Near Classic 6:Hip Hop Is Dead 9/10 7:Untitled 9/10 8:Distant Relatives 9/10 9:Streets Disiple 8.8/10 10:I Am... 8/10 11:Nastradumus 7/10

    4 Oct 2011 Reply
  • BleedTheMartyr

    best album by nas...classic [2]

    19 Aug 2011 Reply
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