Album: It Was Written

At a time when Nas was coming off Illmatic, his second album felt like he officially arrived with his empowering single “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That).” Over a sample of Kurtis Blow's "If I Ruled the World," Nas and then-Fugees member Lauryn Hill envision a world where you get to smoke weed without breaking any laws, poverty is gone, and your whole crew is living good in mansions. Their collaboration is the best form of motivation that's found in lines like, “If I ruled the world and everything in it, sky’s the limit/I push a Q-45 Infinit(i)/It wouldn’t be no such thing as jealousies or B Felonies/Strictly living longevity to the destiny.” But more than anything, this was the commercial hit Nas needed; he'd conquered the underground and respect with his debut, but now he gained a Grammy nom and his first Billboard hit. We need songs like this to keep our spirits high, and “If Ruled the World” still accomplishes this with every listen. —Eric Diep