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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… read more



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  • Avatar for journik850
    Used to be a sole Illmatic fan, but I've revisited this after two years and found a new appreciation for its clean sound. I must be just falling hard for that 90's vibe.
  • Avatar for GaryB123
    SimonePerrota, you eloquently described my sentiments exactly.
  • Avatar for DickBigems
    Simone put it better than I ever could. Totally agree with everything he said.
  • Avatar for maddsurgeon
    I like it a lot better than Illmatic just based on the production. The raps themselves don't impress much, though.
  • Avatar for 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.
  • Avatar for 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…
  • Avatar for DickBigems
    I don't think that's the average opinion of this album based on this shoutbox.
    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!
  • Avatar for DavidCelaya
  • Avatar for gonzeaux
    Basically Written slays Doubt. [2]

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