Posted by: vincentlopez | April 2, 2009

The Second Coming – The Source August 1996 issue featuring Nas




‘One King’, huh?  Can’t you just see Biggie lying on a leather sofa with a fat blunt in his hand with his eyes fixed squarely on this Source Record Report while taking a break in the studio back in ’96?  His two biggest competitors were dropping albums around the same time while he was likely in the midst of recording Life After Death.  I can definitely say that I was anticipating Nas to fall short of 5 mics with his second album.  I knew that there was just no way he would be able to equal or top Illmatic with the Trackmasters guiding him.  No Pete Rock, no Large Pro, and no Q-Tip???  And really, it all boiled down to album sales.  Plenty of rappers were selling more records than Nas was because they made catchy songs for the radio.   And with Lauryn Hill ruling the radio playlists in ’96, it was a no-brainer to add her vocals to If I Ruled the World.  I can’t blame him for wanting a small piece of the pie after Biggie had captured the airwaves and video shows for close to 2 years.  Looking back, most people would label those two albums you see above as 5 mic classics.  But not me.  It Was Written is still a 4.5 mic album to me (including that cassette only ‘Silent Murder’ track) and Reasonable Doubt is still Jay’s best (and highest rated) album to me at a perfectly rated 4 mics.   Nope, it’s NOT a classic in my eyes.


Record Report:

NasIt Was Written (4 mics)

Jay-ZReasonable Doubt (4 mics)

Digital UndergroundFuture Rhythm (3 mics)

Sadat XWild Cowboys (3 mics)

Master PIce Cream Man (3 mics)

Delinquent HabitsDelinquent Habits (3 mics)

Hyenas in the DesertDie Laughing (2.5 mics)

Source August 1996 issue


 August 1996 fat tape



  1. Thanks man. But i think sadat deserved more mics.

  2. Wasn’t Nas supposed to be on Reasonable Doubt?


  3. Incredible.

    @ Jay

    He was. He never showed up to the stuidio for whatever reason.

  4. Thanks for the issue and I’m glad I’m not the only one who agrees on the original Reasonable Doubt rating.

    About IWW, I’d give it the extra half mic of I Am… since that album was rated at 4.5.

    Sadat X and only 3 mics, I thought it’d at least get a 3.5

  5. I read an interview with O.C. a year or two ago and said the same thing about Nas (he wasn’t mad about it). Also heard that he was supposed to be in the Dead Presidents video.

  6. Blueprint is a 5 mics, RD 4.5. It was written correct rating. Sadat x 4 mics! In Hip Hop Connection Hyenas got 5 stars – hmmmmmmm source more accurate.

  7. thanx for the post, it was writtenwas a correct rating, but i disagree with the original review of reasonable doubt. i guess at the time in their eyes it was just another album that followed the mafioso/gangster trend that was dominating in the mid-90s.

  8. I hope you fools choose to listen/I drop jewels/bust it/these are the rules I follow in my life/ya gotta love it…

    Point blank:

    If you don’t think Reasonable Doubt is a classic, you haven’t heard it enough. It’s got a least 50 lines that stick with you and relate to your everyday routine you call life.

  9. thx again, sadat x should be 3.5 at least

  10. YO!!!!!!!!! Once again it’s on! Thx!

  11. Thanks so much, very good issue.

  12. Love the site, especially the Fat Tape’s
    Keep ’em comin’

  13. Thanks for the upload

  14. No comments on D.U.’s Future Rhythm 3 mics???? That was one of the most original, most honest, progressive hip-hop records. In 2009, I’m about to shock people and say that Future Rhythm is ten times better than It Was Written and RD and all the rest of the records from that time. No one gives props to Shock G and the D.U. crew to this day and they are the ones who (along with Outkast and The Native Tongue) strived for different sounds and messages without money as motivation. It Was Written and RD are good albums, but that’s just talented, smart money records. That’s not Illmatic. Not even close. We forget that we shed tears with Illmatic. IWW and RD was a go**amn gangster fairytales with smart lyrics, but that doesn’t make it a good art. Just a good product. I don’t give a f**k about that.

  15. i agree that “RD” isn’t a classic, but it’s better than “IWW” (the pre-revisionism panning was right, save around two songs it’s really boring) and people sleep on Jay’s other albums. “Vol. 3” and “BP2” in particular are underrated. he really developed a more distinctive flow post-“RD.”

  16. I don’t agree with you saying Reasonable Doubt should be 4 mics. These albums with Only Built 4 Cuban Linx & Life After Death is mafiaso rap at it’s finest. And it’s interesting that when It Was Written came out it was considered a big disappointment to the underground but now it’s considered to be a classic. Both of them are 5 mics to me.

  17. Nice post vincent, and im glad i have this issue.

    ah man, where do i begin on this topic.

    Biggie i think welcomed the challenge, cause he was kool with both emcee’s but Nas at that point was kinda ahead out of the three at that time.
    Biggie said he wanted his Life After death Lp to be better than Nas It was written cause Nas LP went 2x plat!!
    2x plat at that time was a awesome feat! And Nas’s It Was Written to me is a sure fire 5 mic classic. No ifs ands or buts about it!! Yeah the dr.dre track was a letdown but everything else is pure classic! I just remember that time vividly in the 10th grade jammin both Nas & Hov albums. Thats was just a great time man that 2 5 mic classics came out not too long from each other. Thats will never happen again!
    And Trackmasters wasnt no slouch behind the boards. Nas 2nd Lp, Foxy browns 1st LP, LL Mr. Smith plus mad other joints during that time. They got classics out there. Trackmasters get always slept on, but go back to ’96 and they was ill!!

    cmon vincent, 4.5? no way no how!! u still my ni99a tho!!

    Sadat X wild cowboys is not no damn 3 mics. i say 3.5 or 4. “Stages & Lights” is a 5 mic song tho!! i still bump that at least every 4-5 days!

    and that Fat Tape is ill man, just sick!! pure classic!

  18. Good Post. Although Q is suprised by your thoughts on Jay’s Classic album (yeah, i see it as a classic). I will agree with you on Nas and see you around til the next episode!!!!


  20. RD is a classic, in my opinion it is better than Blueprint, maybe a little weaker on beats but a lot stronger on lyrics, it is his first album, the album he has been writing and developing for the first twenty years of his life, Blueprint has been written in about a year or something. I never felt it was written, it is a good album but the beats are just not doing it for Nas the way they are supposed to.
    But the Jay-Z/Nas talk could go on and on, one thing that shocked me about this issue is the Wild Cowboys rating. 3 mics?? Come on, this is straight weird, it is a definite 4.
    I appreciate you posting this one and I see that a lot of people (including myself) are starting to post comments like you said you would like to. Keep doing what you do, respect.
    Peace from Slovenia, Europe, 1.

  21. @Thenewtroyy – I don’t have any Word Up or Rap Masters anymore. I used to have lots of Word Up mags back in the 80’s, though.



  24. @Thenewtroyy – I threw away all of those magazines sometime around ’94. You’re gonna have to do some more web searching for what you’re looking for.

  25. You are the one stop connect for my source fix. I read recently you thought of calling it quits cause people were not responding. I have been keeping silent in the cut, downloading everything you’ve put out. Keep doing your thing, your service is much appreciated.

  26. I remember this is where the nas/jay-z debates originated. After everyone copped this issue of the source, all the cats that thought nas sold out would be like “jay is the new great one!” Maad props for that Fat Tape, there’s like three tracks on there i been lookin for. I actually bought the first 6 albums on this record report.

    Wild cowboys was the one Sadat album i decided to try. Didn’t like it. Dude’s flow annoys me after a multiple songs. I remember i bought the master P album too. Same thing. His flow got on my nerves.

    The Delinquent Habits was actually a fairly dope album, i’d say 3.5 mics. Same with DU….they had this song with the Luniz “We Got More” that i played the shit outta. I think It Was Written was one of Nas’ worst albums. I’d give it 3.5 mics. Reasonable Doubt maybe 4.5. I agree it’s not a classic but it was close.

    I remember no one was calling it a classic back then. It wasn’t til he got big and told all his fans it was a classic. Then folks started callin it a classic.

    • @yourwrong – You’re right about Reasonable Doubt. No one called it classic until he got big and everyone else either died or fell off. I’ve always said he’s the luckiest guy in the industry.

  27. As far as the views on RD and IWW… I’ll just throw it out there and say that I was VERY into the Jay album at the time, not so much on the Nas. But both of those have held up well over the years. It Was Written was an album that had the burden of coming out at a time when people were getting kinda picky about hip-hop… the “purists” seemed to be SEARCHING for things to complain about, and Nas dropped an album that was right in the bullseye of everything they were bitching about in ’96. If I recall, heads weren’t crazy about anything with an r&b-ish feel to it, nor were they all that crazy about the post-Cuban Linx “mafioso” trend that had been running rampant by then. So when you add those two things together, and throw in the fact that anything below the mark of ‘Illmatic’ was gonna be unacceptable, I think that album really got a much worse rap than it deserved. Jay’s album had some of those elements to it, but it also had what Nas’ album didn’t have which was a more street feel to it production-wise along with Jay solidifying himself as an MC to take seriously… it just seemed more street-level, whereas Nas (admittedly) was looking to grab a bigger audience with his.

    As far as the ratings like the 3 for Sadat… I’ll be honest, that album bored the hell out of me. With albums like that and the Real Live joint and the Xzibit album, those to me were mid-level releases in comparison to the better music of that era. They’re not bad albums, but 3 means ‘average’ and a lot of that stuff was average for the time in which they dropped.

  28. Hahaha, HYENAS IN THE DESERT 2.5 MICS?!?!

    THAT ALBUM IS DOPE!!! Die Laughing > It Was Written & Reasonable Doubt

    Check out “Concubinez”!!

  29. I’ve never though Jay made strong albums, but of his albums, “Reasonable Doubt” is his strongest.

    In a year with 2 2pac classic records (All Eyez On Me & Makaveli), Outkast’s “Atliens”, The Fugees records, Ras Kass’ “Soul On Ice” De La Soul’s “Stakes Is High” Mobb Deep’s “Hell On Earth”, Ghostface’s “Ironman” and a ton of other major Hip-Hop classics, I just don’t think that “Reasonable Doubt” stood out, in comparison to those records.

    I think it has benefited from revisionist history by Jay “stans”, who wanted him to have an “Illmatic”, which he doesn’t. Jay was a 2nd level artist back in 1996. It wasn’t until a lot of things happened in his favor, did anyone ever say the worlds “classic” and Jay-Z in the same sentence. It’s 4 mics.

    As for “It Was Written”. I had bumped “Illmatic” for 2 years and was excited to get Nas’ follow up, even though I’ve never liked the lead single “If I Ruled The World”.

    I was disappointed, but today I look at it as a good record musically. I give it 4 mics.

    But I will say that “IWW” may be the record that “ruined” Hip-Hop.


    Because Nas was the only MC who could have held down the fort in the mainstream for Hip-Hop heads. Once he went over to the dark side with Biggie and Puff and started doing that R&B type crossover rap, the flood gates opened.

    Hip-Hop would be totally different today, if “It Was Written” was a Hip-Hop record and not a Pop record.

  30. Yo what is yall Hi It was written is the best album rap wise ever made real rap im from philly it was written came out 2 days before my 16th birthday like some of all keep talking about commercial where street dreams the streets raised me up giving a fuck i thought jordans and a gold chain was living in up I knew the dopes, the pushers, the addicts everybody
    Cut out of class, just to smoke blunts and drink Notty
    Ain’t that funny? Gettin put on to crack money teling me yall couldn’t relate to that specially when he Some niggaz went for theirs, flippin coke as they career he many niggas we all know niggas like this still doing now and when this album dropped. Its mandatory see that pussy they hand it to me i got no game just sum bitches understand my story. Like this nigga kills this album ridiculously fuck a beat i listen to lyrics. Anyone who say it commercial or disappointed u wasn’t in the streets 95-97 you must of wasn’t wearing that shit so i guess yall cant relate Yo the message watch dem gave you power nas is coming take it in blood black girl lost silent murder OMG yall Niggas is tripping listen real good maybe open a dictionary and think back to how shit use to be in 96 oh yeah reasonable Doubt not classic to me either

  31. Its 9ice

  32. Nas-It Was Written: Could have been a 5/5 instead of 4/5.

  33. What’s up – – dig that you held on to these. Wondering if you could help me out – I did a Microphone Check on Jayz but I don’t have a copy of the clip – could you help me out getting a copy? Also I have some premier issue rap mags you may be interested in. Thanks

    • What’s the month/year of the issue?

  34. I want to know if I can buy the August 1996 issue of the source magazine with nas on the cover from any website or amazon or eBay and have it delivered to my house

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