REWIND | Nas celebrates 26 years of “It Was Written”, a sacred hip hop relic [Watch]

26 Years ago in hip hop July 2, 1996, one of the greatest rappers of all time Nas dropped his critically acclaimed second studio album “It Was Written” the follow up to his iconic “Illmatic” released in 1994. The album saw Nas change into a new mafioso persona, gave us a sneak peek at what would become hip hop group “The Firm”, featuring Foxy Brown, AZ and Cormega, and created a classic that changed the culture of hip hop.

Originally released July 2, 1996 on Columbia Records It Was Written signaled a shift in the world of hip-hop, redefining the game with new mafioso street tales and sonic dimensions as opposed to the raw underground hardcore street tales that saw Nas’ had established with Illmatic, his 1994 debut album (recorded June 1992 – February 1993 in NYC) which was both a landmark and crossroad event, however still got overlooked at the 1995 Source awards. Despite the critic acclaim on Illmatic, which in my opinion is the best album by Nas, he decided to get creative and produced what would be his number one selling album ever to date.

Watch Nas – Street Dreams (Official NEW HD Video)

The album was a commercial success and debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts, selling more than a quarter million copies in its first week. The album’s hit singles included “If I Ruled The World (Imagine That)” and “Street Dreams,” each becoming an enduring hip-hop anthem. The album has newly beein certified RIAA triple platinum, making “It Was Written” the top-selling album of Nas’ career.

To celebrate the 25 year milestone, Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment,released an expanded digital edition of Nas’ It Was Written, in celebration of the groundbreaking hip-hop classic’s 25th anniversary, on July 2, 2021. Both the “If I Ruled The World (Imagine That)” and “Street Dreams” music videos have been upgraded to high resolution HD video for the 25th anniversary.

Watch Nas- If I Ruled The World ( Imagine That) ft Lauryn Hill (Official NEW HD Video)

The expanded digital edition presented fans Nas’ original album (in its entirety) along with the addition of bonus tracks “Silent Murder” and “Street Dreams” (Bonus Verse), previously unreleased through digital service providers. The album featured hip-hop royalty of guest artists and producers that included Dave Atkinson, Delight, DJ Kid Capri, DJ Premier, Dr. Dre, Kirk Goddy, Havoc (Mobb Deep), Joel “JoJo” Hailey (of K-Ci & JoJo). L.E.S., Live Squad, J. Parker, Poke & Tone, Rashad Smith, Richard Travali and Kurt Walker to name a few.

Watch Nas’ “It Was Written” Explained

One of the spotlight albums in Sony Music/Certified’s Black Music Month ’96 Again campaign, “It Was Written” is explored in a a two-minute mini-documentary premiering June 24.  The video celebrates the 1996 tour de force album that catapulted Nas from the New York hip-hop underground into the American cultural mainstream.” – Legacy Recordings

Nas – Black Girl Lost

To add to the 25th anniversary release list, a mini documentary of the album was released July 2, 2021 along with “If I Ruled The World (Imagine That)” and “Street Dreams” music videos receiving upgrades to high resolution HD for the anniversary celebrations premiere Friday, July 2.

Watch Nas – Street Dreams: How One Bold Risk Changed the Course of Rap

Nas – Street Dreams ft R.Kelly (remix music video)

Listen to “It Was Written” (Expanded Edition) 25th Anniversary below
Apple Music

Try Apple Music

The 25 Year Anniversary Limited Edition Deluxe Bundle

Limited to 2,000 units worldwide, the limited edition bundle included: 

  • It Was Written Silver & Clear Galaxy Effect double colored vinyl housed in a gatefold jacket.
  • An old-school clear cassette shell with an original 8-panel J-Card featuring full lyrics housed in a custom slipcase. 
  • Silver and Black colored 7″ single of The Message b/w Street Dreams (extended version) housed in a custom picture jacket.

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