Following Illmatic, especially in retrospect, is the most impossible task in Hip-Hop history. Dubbed the greatest work of art the culture ever spawned, Nas’ sophomore effort, It Was Written, was thrown under the bus as a disappointment long after it graced shelves. But, it far from that, actually. Nasir carved time out of his schedule to speak with the folks at XXL to shed light on the project, which turned 15 years old this year. Ironically, IWW continues to stand the test of time as Nas’ highest selling album and one that dropped during the most tense (and violent) period of the genre’s young life.
The brief read touches on several issues such as Dr. Dre’s influence on the album and the legacy of Lauryn Hill. Esco also sheds light on the record “I Gave You Power” and how he never saw his situation with Tupac as “beef.”
That song also partially led to ‘Pac taking issue with you ’cause he had the same track on All Eyez on Me that he released that same year. What was your reaction when you heard that ‘Pac accused you of taking the same track?
See, I was always into ‘Pac early before his controversial side blew up all over America and the world. I was already into his music. I saw him as a kindred spirit, I saw him as a brother, so it was like beefin’ with your brother. Not even beefin’, it felt like, your brother over there’s a little mad. This is an issue right now, so you gotta deal with it.
What was your inspiration for “I Gave You Power?”
A Premier beat. Just a beat from Premier… in the studio. Back then I was around a lot more guns and my reality was that. There was no armed security back then, it was just us moving around so that was a lot more in my world.
Read the full interview at XXL.