The Making of Nas' "It Was Written"

“Watch Dem Ni**as” f/ Foxy Brown

Produced by: Trackmasters

Nas: “Things were getting a little dangerous. I was hanging with a lot of dangerous people and I think my brother told me, ‘Watch them niggas that’s close to you.’ I just took it from there and made it a song. That’s the one foot still in the street album. They pulled me over and I got arrested at that time in a Lexus, I had no license and I had a gun on me. They took my car and they arrested me. That’s what was happening to me at the time.”

Tone: “At that point, we were also gearing up for The Firm’s album. So that was a way strengthening the Nas and Foxy relationship. That had a jazz sample from Earl Klugh and some strings, so there was a lot of things going on melodically that didn’t make sense for Nas. So after Nas finished the record, that’s when we went and got Fox. We had a strategy: If the music is too melodic, we’ve got to put more hard stuff on top of it.”

Poke:“Right. To dumb it down, so it doesn’t sound so pretty.”

 

Foxy’s the best female rapper to ever do it. As an artist, obviously you’ve had better artists. But as a female rapper, no one could touch Foxy. - Tone

 

Tone: “Exactly. And if the music is too hard, we’ve got to put melodic stuff on top of it to bring it back up. That was how we kept the continuity of the album, to try to make it so that it has a hard appeal but it’s broad enough so that it doesn’t discourage white America.

“Foxy’s the best female rapper to ever do it. As an artist, obviously you’ve had better artists. But as a female rapper, no one could touch Foxy. Foxy was really the first one that really would challenge a male emcee. You didn’t want to fuck with her because she had the attitude, she had the voice, tone, and she really understood the drug game and the streets. She was very clear about the things that she wrote about.”

Poke: “Not to mention she had a real pen.”

Tone: “Yeah. She wrote all of her own stuff. I mean, obviously Jay-Z ghost-wrote some of the radio stuff, but all that hardcore Foxy stuff, she put it down. Working with her, when she’s in the studio, she’s an absolute beast.”

Poke: “Getting her to the studio was a whole other thing.”

Tone: “Yeah, but once she’s there, it’s a wrap. If you get her in the studio, you’re getting a record. She’ll pen a verse in 10 minutes.”

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