It was the summer of 1996. It was hard to walk down a street in the ‘hood without hearing the voice of Queensbridge’s golden child Nas blasting from somebody’s speakers. The rapper had just released his highly-anticipated and critically-acclaimed sophomore album It Was Written. Although a young Jay-Z had also released his classic debut Reasonable Doubt just a week before, he was still far off the radar and everyone in the hip-hop world was focused on Nasty Nas.
In order to garner more album sales, Nas decided to take a more mainstream approach and featured popular artists like Lauryn Hill of The Fugees, in addition to his hip hop super group The Firm that consisted of Foxy Brown, AZ, Cormega and Nature. The album featured primary production from Queen’s production duo Trackmasters as well as DJ Premier, Mc Serch, Havoc of Mobb Deep and Dr. Dre. It Was Written debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 charts and went on to sell 4 million copies in a time when albums were still purchased in the store. The album is still considered to be Nas’ most successful album to date. It Was Written also set Nas apart from his competitors and placed him in hip-hop’s exclusive elite group of top lyricists.
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