It Was Written
It Was Written.jpeg
Studio album by Nas


July 2, 1996


April 1995 - February 1996


Soundtrack Studios
(New York City)
D&D Studios
(New York City)
Bearsville Studios
(New York City)
Dr. Dre's House
(Los Angeles, CA)
Hit Factory Studios
(New York City)
Sony Music Studios
(New York City)
Chung King Studios
(Manhattan, New York)
Westlake Studios
(Los Angeles, CA)


Hip hop, Mafioso rap, East Coast hip hop






Dave Atkinson, DJ Premier, Dr. Dre, Havoc, L.E.S., Live Squad, Lo Ground, MC Serch (exec.), Rashad Smith, Top General Sounds, Trackmasters

Nas chronology


Illmatic (1994)


I Am... (1999)

It Was Written is the second studio album by American rapper Nas, released in July 2, 1996 on Columbia Records. Following the moderate commercial success of his acclaimed 1994 debut album Illmatic, Nas chose to focus his efforts in a more mainstream direction. The album was produced by Trackmasters, DJ Premier, Dr. Dre, Havoc, L.E.S., Lo Ground, Live Squad, Top General Sounds and Rashad Smith. It is a departure 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' short-lived supergroup The Firm, which included rappers Foxy Brown, AZ, and Cormega.

The album proved to be Nas' most commercially successful release, debuting at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart. It also heralded Nas' mainstream popularity, and followed the success of other mafioso rap albums such as Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... in 1995 and Reasonable Doubt in 1996. However, his stylistic changes and increased mainstream success created accusations of selling out within the hip hop community. It has been viewed by music writers as one of Nas' best works and remains Nas' best-selling release, with over two million copies sold in the United States alone.

Track listing[edit | edit source]

No. Title Performer(s) Writer(s) Producer(s) Time
1. "Album Intro" - Jones Nas, Trackmasters 2:25
2.  "The Message" Nas Barnes, Jones Trackmasters 3:54
3. "Street Dreams" Nas Barnes, Jones, Lennox, Stewart Trackmasters 4:40
4. "I Gave You Power" Nas Jones, Martin DJ Premier 3:53
5. "Watch Dem N*@!#s" Nas, Foxy Brown Barnes, Jones Trackmasters 4:05
6. "Take It in Blood" Nas Childs, Epps, Horne, Jones, Pruitt, Walker Live Squad, Top General Sounds, Lo Ground 4:48
7. "Nas Is Coming" Nas Jones, Young Dr. Dre 5:41
8. "Affirmative Action" Nas, AZ, Foxy Brown, Cormega Barnes, Cruz, Jones, Marchand, McKay, Olivier Dave Atkinson, Trackmasters 4:20
9. "The Set Up" Nas, Havoc Jones, Muchita Havoc 4:02
10. "Black Girl Lost" Nas Jones, Lewis. Lucas, Mtume L.E.S., Trackmasters (add.) 4:23
11. "Suspect" Nas Jones, Lewis L.E.S. 4:12
12. "Shootouts" Nas Barnes, Jones, Olivier Trackmasters 3:46
13. "Live N*%@# Rap" Nas, Prodigy, Havoc Jones, Muchita Havoc 3:45
14. "If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)" Nas , Lauryn Hill Barnes, Jones, Olivier, Walker Trackmasters, Rashad Smith (add.) 4:42


  • Track 2 features scratches performed by Kid Capri
  • Track 3 features keyboards performed by Delight
  • Track 5 features keyboards performed by Delight
  • Track 8 features keyboards performed by Dave Atkinson
  • Track 10 features background vocals performed by JoJo Hailey
  • Track 14 features keyboards performed by Delight

Samples[edit | edit source]

Album Intro

  • "A Change Is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke
  • "The Sly, The Slick and The Wicked" by The Lost Generation

The Message

  • "Impeach the President" by The Honey Drippers
  • "Shape of My Heart" by Sting

Street Dreams

  • "Never Gonna Stop" by Linda Clifford
  • "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" by Eurythmics

I Gave You Power

  • "Forecast" by Eric Gale
  • "Repent Walpurgis" by Procol Harum
  • "Theme Bahamas" by Ahmad Jamal

Watch Dem N!*%#@

  • "The Sponge" by Bob James and Earl Klugh

Take It in Blood

Nas Is Coming

  • "Synopsis Two: Mother's Day" by 24-Carat Black

Affirmative Action

  • "Poetas Andaluces" by Aguaviva

Black Girl Lost

  • "Starlight" by Stephanie Mills


  • "El Gato Triste" by Chuck Mangione
  • "Kitty With the Bent Frame" by Quincy Jones


  • "Theme from the Avengers" by Laurie Johnson
  • "I Wish You Were Here" by Al Green

If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)

  • "Friends" by Whodini
  • "If I Ruled the World" by Kurtis Blow
  • "Walk Right Up to the Sun" by The Delfonics

Silent Murder

  • "You're Gettin' a Little Too Smart" by The Detroit Emeralds
  • "Get a Life" by Soul II Soul
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