Nas, It Was Written (1996)

Label: Columbia

Roc Marciano: “Everybody says Illmatic all the time, and I love Illmatic too. But It Was Written, I love it a little more, because he had improved so much. The songwriting is next level. Nas is the Golden Child.

“I remember at the time, when it first came out, dudes didn’t appreciate it as much, because it wasn’t Illmatic, as far as the beats, you know, Trackmasters. But once it settled in, it was just jaw-dropping rhymes. And with the beats, over time your taste changes and you’re like, ‘You know what? This is not Illmatic, it’s just a little more sophisticated.’

“To me, that’s Nas’ best album. ‘Shootouts.’ What’s better than that?"