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Reviewing Nas's second album It Was Written, Leo Stanley of allmusic believed the rhymes to be not as complex as those in Illmatic but still "not only flow, but manage to tell coherent stories as well".
Columbia Records began to press Nas to work towards more commercial topics, such as that of The Notorious B. G., who had become successful by releasing street singles that still retained radio-friendly appeal.
Nas made his solo debut under the name of "Nasty Nas" on the single "Halftime" from MC Serch's soundtrack for the film Zebrahead.
his rhyming skills attracted a significant amount of attention within the hip-hop community.
[...] Nas never became 'the next Rakim,' nor did he really have to. The sublime lyricism of the CD, combined with the fact that it was delivered into the crucible of the boiling East-West conflict, quickly solidified [his] reputation as the premier writer of his time.
Steve Huey of All Music described Nas's lyrics on Illmatic as "highly literate" and his raps "superbly fluid regardless of the size of his vocabulary", adding that Nas is "able to evoke the bleak reality of ghetto life without losing hope or forgetting the good times".
In 1995, Nas did guest performances on the albums Doe or Die by AZ, The Infamous by The Infamous Mobb Deep, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx by Raekwon and 4,5,6 by Kool G Rap.
Nas also parted ways with manager MC Serch, enlisted Steve Stoute, and began preparation for his second LP, It Was Written, consciously working towards a crossover-oriented sound.
Nas, Foxy Brown, AZ, and Nature Present The Firm: The Album was finally released in 1997 to mixed reviews.
On the other hand, Illmatic, which, while having numerous references to Scarface protagonist Tony Montana, was more about his early life growing up in the projects. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment label, The Firm began working on their debut album.
Halfway through the production of the album, Cormega was fired from the group by Steve Stoute, who had unsuccessfully attempted to force Cormega to sign a deal with his management company.
It Was Written, chiefly produced by Tone and Poke of Trackmasters, was released during the summer of 1996.
Two singles, "If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)" (featuring Lauryn Hill of The Fugees) and "Street Dreams", including a remix with R. These songs were promoted by big-budget music videos directed by Hype Williams, making Nas a common name among mainstream hip-hop.
Nas is often named as one of the greatest hip-hop artists.