[...] 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".
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.
In 2016, Nas narrated The Get Down and rapped as Adult Ezekiel of 1996.
From 2001-2005, Nas was involved in a highly publicized feud with Jay-Z. In 2010, he released Distant Relatives, a collaboration album with Damian Marley, donating all royalties to charities active in Africa.
His 11th studio album, Life Is Good (2012) was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards.
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.