Loose Links: Nas, El-P, Spank Rock, Eddie Huang

Nas recalls making "It Was Written," El-P talks about New York's rap scene, Spank Rock grows up and Eddie Huang gets his own TV show.

Nas's discography has been something of a mystery over the years: when he's on point, he makes classics (see: IllmaticStillmatic), but when his cross-hairs veer off target, it's an entirely different matter. But the Queensbridge emcee's sophomore LP It Was Written is perhaps his most problematic, and not because of its quality. When it first dropped back in '96, critics lambasted Nas Escobar's new, radio-friendly sound; nowadays, the LP is looked upon as one of his classic works. So on the 15th anniversary of its release, XXL caught up with God's Son to discuss the making of the now-seminal  album.

Read XXL's "Nas Remembers the Impact of It Was Written, 15 Years Later"

For the past two decades, El-P has been a mainstay of the New York underground Hip Hop circuit. From his work with cult trio Company Flow to heading the now-defunct Definitive Jux label, he's left his fingerprints all over the independent Hip Hop scene, and given his recent work with Killer Mike and Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire, he' showing no signs of letting up anytime soon. So Fader caught up with the storied emcee/producer to talk about his lengthy career and his views on the ever-changing face of Hip Hop music.

Read Fader's "Q&A: El-P"

Miami bass-influenced rapper Spank Rock has never been at the top of the critic's year end lists. DX's own Kathy Iandoli even expressed her deep hatred of the Baltimore-based emcee and his tongue-in-cheek 2 Live Crew schtick. But five years after his and producer XXXChange's hipster-approved '06 YoYoYoYoYo, Spank Rock and company have transformed from ass-obsessed jokesters into businessmen. Check out The Age's recent piece on Spank Rock's evolution and how the departure of his one-time producer shaped the sound of his latest project Everything Is Boring and Everyone Is a Fucking Liar.

Check Out The Age's "All grown up and on his own"

For many New Yorkers, the name Eddie Huang is synonymous with the critically acclaimed and bank account friendly East Village restaurant BaoHaus. But what most people probably don't know is that is that Huang is a die-hard Hip Hop head and has even lent his pen to DX. Now, in the spirit of his own price-conscious eatery, Huang is getting his own TV show on the Cooking Channel "Cheap Bites." Check out a promo video below, and you can read up about it at Eddie's blog ThePopChef.

RELATED: Loose Links: 25 Best Jewish References In Rap, 25 Best Rap Lines of 2011, Karmaloop's iKon Holiday Gift Guides

12 Comments

  • Anonymous

    IS It Was Written looked upon as classic? I think people are pseudo-intellectually playing devil's advocate so as not to be tarnished with the 'hater' brush. Face facts, though - the rapping was lazy and confused compared to Illmatic, and the music as a whole was a greedy stab at pop stardom. Rather blatant and cack-handed too. Street Dreams Remix, anyone?

    • The Conformist

      I wouldn't call the rapping lazy, by any means. The beats, on the other hand, well... I can see where you're coming from. Nas went in a much different direction on a few tracks and people just weren't expecting it, hence the backlash that resulted. At the same time, there were more hardcore beats than one might think if they'd read about the album without actually listening to it (namely I Gave You Power, Affirmative Action and the 3 tracks before If I Ruled the World). However, there is no excuse for songs like Street Dreams, Watch Dem Niggas and, yes, Nas Is Coming (Dre production does not always mean a song will work). In the end, It Was Written was a very good album, but definitely not up there with Illmatic, sorry. In the end, Illmatic is the better album

    • devincla@yahoo.com

      ^^^ LOL @ 'greedy stab at pop music' and that means the dumb ass who first said it and the second one who co-signed I swear you dudes act like you begrudge Nas for trying to appeal to a wider audience... I mean really... don't you want Nas to be in Jay's position? Wouldn't Nas' brilliance be appreciated even more if it was more accessible? And a 'greedy stab?' What? If I ruled the world is such an exceptional record its unreal... conscious rhymes, thought-provoking, lyrical, fantastic production, beautiful hook... probably Nas' greatest single ever... for you lames to trivialize work like that is so shallow and LAZY of you Then tracks like I gave you power, the message, black girl lost, watch dem niggas, take it in blood etc. etc... how could you possibly conceive any of that shit to be a lazy stab at pop stardom? Because he got Trackmasters to handle the boards? really? You might be able to say that about street dreams... but that beat is banging and Nas kills the hook, not to mention that song is very lyrical as well... and act like you didn't feel the video, straight casino-remake with the dude who beat Pesci with the bat in the original... that shit was nice lol... reminds me of the 1st verse of undying love But I digress... the standard of criticism applied to Nas is higher than that of any other MC... its like if the dude isn't 100% consistent with his subject matter w/o any contradictions, isn't illmatic-type lyrical, isn't 100% on point with his beat selection he gets shit from somebody... IWW stacks up against ANY rap album period, Illmatic included... you should celebrate the genius of an artist who has those two albums in his catalouge rather than characterize IWW as lazy and a 'greedy stab at stardom' Come on dudes

    • Anonymous

      It Was Written is a fantastic record... I like illmatic more, yeah, but The rhymes weren't lazy by any means. Confusing... ha yeah sometimes, but he wasn't saying shit just to say it, every word out of his mouth on that record is actually meaningful which is something that is really lacking nowadays... Everything else you expressed was spot on... "Greedy stab at pop stardom.." Agreed.

  • Anonymous

    It Was Written >>> Illmatic.

    • Anonymous

      I think people loved illmatic until it was called the best hip hop album of all time... Then everyone jumped ship to It Was Written. Both classic joints, but illmatic is that shit. illmatic was like picturing the exact opposite of the Holocaust... It was a work of fuckin art. I love IWW, but The world is Yours, Halftime, NY State Of Mind, One Love, It Ain't Hard To Tell.... COME ON BROTHA illmatic >>> IWW

  • blackula

    Funny how they mention here how IWW was criticized for being radio friendly. Compare that album to what you hear on the radio now and that album sounds gutter as hell...lol.

  • Anonymous

    time has redeemed it was written. it will do the same fo I Am.. as well

    • Anonymous

      mehhhhhhhh There all platinum, and time can't heal all his records... I Am... is a solid record, and prolly my third or fourth favorite of his, but time won't heal Nastradamus and with the direction hip hop is going I doubt I Am... will get much more recognition. Time gave us a better understanding of how dope It Was Written was, but it was also the second album from the dude. He was still in his illmatic mood and you can tell on that album. The 3 records that followed that were nothing in comparison to those 2 and Stillmatic/God's Son... those 4 albums and parts of I Am... were just untouchable to some extent.

  • Anonymous

    ****KNOW YOUR HIP HOP HISTORY***** Question: Who was the 1st west coast artist that Russell Simmons signed to Def Jam? Answer: Mel-low (Compton, CA) Here's a Def Jam classic music video. Mel-low feat Redman "Blaze It Up" This was the very first Def Jam video to be banned from playing on BET and MTV. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkBPl2MlEGM

  • Its Um

    Like Its was written a lot.

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