Easily recognized as one of Nas’s most impressive bodies of work, this year marks the 15th anniversary of the celebrated classic It Was Written. Originally received with mixed reviews, and even obtaining a measly two stars from Rolling Stone, the album has since been revered as one of the more iconic LPs in hip-hop. XXL recently caught up with the Queens bred emcee, as he spoke in remembrance of the work as well as on the time’s East Coast/West Coast feud and his issues with fellow rapper Tupac Shakur. See an excerpt below and head over to XXL to view the entire piece.
XXL: Illmatic eventually went platinum, but at the time It Was Written was your first time going platinum.
Nas: Unreal. Unreal. It was like, I got that platinum. I can get out the game or I can do whatever. That’s that.
That’s also you transitioning into becoming a superstar, a new level of fame. How was that adjustment for you?
It was good. It was perfect because it was perfect timing for me. I had a lot to say. I had a lot of things I wanted to express. I had a lot of styles I wanted to put into the game. I had a lot to give the game and I was ready to give it to ‘em. So it was perfect timing.
Was it at a point where you couldn’t walk down the street without causing a mob?
The first album, funny enough, was that way. The first album and second album was like that. Yea, definitely.
You worked with Dr. Dre in the middle of the East Coast/West Coast feud. What was the response on the East Coast?
It was unbelievable ‘cause Dre had The Chronic, he had Doggystle. And really that was it. So it was unbelievable. It was crazy.
So nobody was like, “Why you working with dude?”
Nah, they thought, “Wow, it’s amazing. It fucked ‘em up. Then Biggie had him and Bone Thugs. Nice move. I was like, “Wow, nice move.”
Do you feel like the Lauryn Hill has gained even more value over the years considering she doesn’t work with rappers anymore?
Yeah, yeah. That’s one of the reasons. All records gain value through the years, but definitely that. Lauryn’s one of those. True to the core at this shit. Everything about her, from her performance… she’s last of a dying breed.