It Was Written (Parental Advisory) [PA] - Nas

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It Was Written (Parental Advisory) [PA] - Nas

1 CD(s) - Rap - Label: Columbia - Distributor: F-Minor; Sony Music/Arvato Services, F-Minor - Released: 01/07/1996 - 5099748419620

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Review of "It Was Written (Parental Advisory) [PA] - Nas"

published 08/06/2008 | XICripZ
Member since : 25/06/2007
Reviews : 1338
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About me :
In it for the money.
Pro Consistant quality
Cons Mobb Deep
very helpful
Quality and consistency of tracks
Cover / Inlay Design and Content
Value for Money

""How You Like Me Now? I Go Blaaaooow!!""

Released in 1996, "It Was Written" was the second album by Nas and his biggest seller to date, most probably due to the popularity of his debut, which was considered to be a classic by most Hip Hop fans, and general music fans too as it was refreshing in its lyrical depth and originality, and everyone expected the same of this, but second albums are notorious for being let down for fans would expect to hear something based upon the original, but the artists tend to want to advance.

1. Album Intro

2. The Message

As this album was relased in 1996, the height of the East Coast-West Coast rivalry, tension were high between rappers from Cali and New York so when nas begins the rap with "Fake thug, no love, you get the slug" you immediately belive that it is a sublimial directed towards the Cali MC 2Pac, who was known as a 'thug' at the time. It resulted in a beef between the two, even though it was directed at the person 2Pac hated most, The Notorious B.I.G. (wo claimed to be the King of New York), it was fortunate that wit was settled proir to 'Pac's murder later on in the year. When you hear "...there can only be one king." later on in the rap, you can hear that it wasn't anything to do with 2Pac.

A sample from Sting's "Shape Of My Heart" is used for this, giving it a sombre sound, it is perfect to calmly flow rhymes on and seemed to prevent him from going that far to call out Biggie. It is a softer diss track than what is usually heard, but was ineffective as it went out ot the wrong person. If it had, it would have been great with his "Life's A B****" quotes to show that he is prepared to go to action if neccessary.

**Four Stars**

3. Street Dreams

This was the followw-up single to "If I Ruled The World", and as it was goign on the momnetum of all the singles from his debut album, of which none were poor, and that one, (one I felt was amongst the greatest he has done to date). I was a little dissapointed by what it brought, at first, but this one seems to grown on you with time.

The first time you hear the chorus, you will realise that he has re-worded the words of the Eurythmics, who sang "Sweet Dreams", and he has played on this and worked on a track around this concept, as the dreams which street people have is completely differnt to that of anyone else, it isn't related t trying to get up and out of the PJs, it's about working up a big street rep.

**Four Stars**

4. I Gave You Power

DJ Primo takes over for production as we go for something very different. Nas starts it off with a little contexual information, which is needed otherwise we would be completely lost as he introduces the narrative, which is through the words of a gun.

This personification is amazing as it goes into so many areas which you just would not think of, so he has obviously done a lot of research into the weapons as they go from person to person, across the country, is forced to bring fear in communities in areas, and as the title says, power is given to make the average person the toughest.

**Five Stars**

5. Watch Dem N****s (feat. Foxy Brown)

Firm-member Foxy Brown backs up Nas in a slower track which uses a distinctive sample of "Sponge" by Bob James & Earl Klugh which has a smooth style to it. It is a thought-inspiraing rhythm, which is backed by the chorus especially. As we are told to make sure we really know the people who are closest to you as they are the most likely to betray you.

**Three Stars**

6. Take It In Blood

You hear a small snippet of the Ultramganetic MCs "Ease Back", which sets ou up for what is brought during the tune as Kool Keith says "I made it like that, I bought it like that, I'm livin like that", setting you up for some gritty lyrics about the struggle to survive where you consistantly hear the streets "...sprayin' shots like a drumroll".

I felt that the track was quite depressing and it was extremly thought-provoking for the listener. The sounds of Kool Keith seeem to echo around, and it's quite chilling even though on the original recording, it wasn't desinged to have such an impact on you.

**Four Stars**

7. Nas Is Coming (feat. Dr. Dre)

You can tell that there is a differnce in this album compared to the last as you see people from all around showing love to the rapper, this one has Cali's Dr. Dre display his respect for Nas by lending some production to him for this track, even at the height of the East Coast-West Coast feud.

Dre switches everything with his funky style, which forces Nas to alter his ways slightly to adapt to the toned-down G-Funk beat. I have to say that Nas sounded comfortable with his change, and it brought out great results, only to be rivaled by their next collaboration together on "Hip Hop Is Dead", with the track "Hustlers".

**Five Stars**

8. Affirmative Action (feat. The Firm)

This track features the memebers of the short-lived rap gruoup composing of Nas Escobar, Foxy Brown, AZ and Nature (who was replaced by Cormega for this track). The Firm went on the mafioso route, as Nas took on the surname Escobar creating a new Mafia-esque persona.

You get this kind of Italian gangster type of string-based music which then may "Hard to Handle" by Otis Redding incorporated onto it. All of the rhymes refer to things which you would asscociate with these type of characters. I thought that the execution was perfect, however the concept just wasn't working for me; it's just not my type of thing.

**Three Stars**

9. The Set Up (feat. Havoc)

This one was produced by one half of Mobb Deep, Havoc, who gave a deep and dark sound to Nas' music with a steady a rather slow beat. We are taken through a story of a set up and all the events which occur within it. You can tell that this man is well-educated, both from the streets and academically as he talks us through some well-organised plans and does it using such creative language which can effortlessly switch from one dialect to another.

**Three Stars**

10. Black Girl Lost (feat. JoJo Hailey)

JoJo of Jodeci and later K-Ci & JoJo lends his R&B vocals to the Nas rap, and as these two acts were amongst my favourites, especially in the mid-nineties, I was excited to hear what they could bring to the table, so to have him sing tow lines in the chorus was very dissapointing, but he does ome with a little more at the end. Overall it was a wasted contribution from a great vocalist.

You should not think that this made me dislike the track though, I was just annoyed that he had such a minor role. The Trackmasters and L.E.S. collaborate for the production and mange to redo a soul sample to make it fit in with the Nas' consicous style. Nas talks about how black women are lost as they don't think of the consequences of doing things just for attention.

**Four Stars**

11. Suspect

L.E.S. is on production, and after what he came with on Nas' debut, he was going to have to return for this one, and he makes a big impact with a very hard, but simple bass beat, which immediately grabs your attention, indication a change in the mood for the album. I said that with his debut album, I lot of it had a strong jazz influence, and this seems like a step towards more modern trends of Hip Hop, away from Jazz rap, but he still manges to keep some of this sound in this track.

Nas is known for being out-spokn and he leavs it to the end of this tune to hit us with some politically-motivated lines. I frelt that this gave a greater imapct on the listner as they are likely to stick in your mind, and possibly even more than the chorus, as it's quite simple and doesn't have much to it in comparison.

**Four Stars**

12. Shootouts

Nas likens life in the PJs (projects), to how it was in the Wild West, where the people make the rules, and the police are the enemy no matter who you are, so they are willing to kill anyone. His words are very powerful and controvercial, especially if you cannot relate to them, but as you here his hood tales in so much depth, you cannot doubt him.

Something which I really liked about this track in particular is that the first verse is so long, making you thinks thatb he's just going to flow his way through the whole of the track, but eventually a chorus does come in. However, I felt that a chorus was required to allow Nas to take a break and explain the context to the track, because without it, we are caught up in a deep stroy without any guidance.

**Three Stars**

13. Live N**** Rap (feat. Mobb Deep)

I didn't really feel this one because with Havo on production, Mobb Deep seemed to dominate this track, not giving Nas enough time, but Nas as alsways manged to make up for this by introducing the most deep lyrics possible, so that the amount said is minimal in comparison to the thoughts it provokes.As I don't really rate Mobb Deep, I wasn't impressed by what they came with, so it was annoying to have them take up 2/3 of the lines, and be in control of making the beats.

**Three Stars**

14. If I Ruled The World (feat. Lauryn Hill)

This track manged to catapult the young alternative artist into mainstream attention as it got him to the top twenty of the Hip Hop tracks of 1996. Looking at how popular he is now, you can't imagine a time where he wouldn't be able to top the general charts, nevermind just the ones for this genre. Due to the obvious significance of what the track means to Nas, this had to be on the album.

The beat from this was taken from one of the greatest old-school Hip Hop tracks in history (in my opinion) , "Friends" by Whodini. The Trackmasters as well as Rashad Smith were able to make a big mix from Larry Smith's mid-eighties beat to make it sound much more modern and relevant to Hip Hop about ten years later on.

**Five Stars**

Although you cannot say that this lives up to the expectations after the classic album "Illmatic", it was a good attempt to try and keep up with the times, as a lot had passed from 1994 to '96, so he did have to alter his rhymes a bit, but I felt that he maintained his depth and came up with great concepts such as in "I Gave You Power"

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Comments on this review

  • newby2 published 10/08/2010
    ummmm Nas! xxxx
  • Seresecros published 08/06/2008
    And he's gone off and married Kelis now, hasn't he? DJ_primo is much more knowledgeable about Nas than I am, as it seems are you. This was a fantastic review.
  • DJ_primo published 08/06/2008
    Nice track-by-track review. Of all the tracks on Nas' 'It Was Written' album, THE MESSAGE and I GAVE YOU POWER are the best songs in my opinion. I love the dark, violin-driven production that Primo provided for 'I Gave You Power' and Nas' using the gun as a metaphor to lyrically describe himself was truly amazing. I bought 'It Was Written' album back in 2005 and found it to be average compared to 'Illmatic' but it's still worth keeping I guess. Peace. ---- DJ_primo
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Manufacturer's product description

1 CD(s) - Rap - Label: Columbia - Distributor: F-Minor; Sony Music/Arvato Services, F-Minor - Released: 01/07/1996 - 5099748419620

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EAN: 5099748419620


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