DAR Roundtable Classics: 1996- Reasonable Doubt vs It Was Written

Once again, we return with another roundtable classics edition. This time we go to 1996 and talk Reasonable Doubt vs It Was Written.

Reasonable Doubt

1. Can't Knock The Hustle
2. Politics As Usual
3. Brooklyn's Finest
4. Dead Presidents II
5. Feelin It
6. D'evils
7. 22 Two's
8. Can I Live
9. Ain't No Nigga
10. Friend or Foe
11. Coming of Age
12. Cashmere Thoughts
13. Bring It On
14. Regrets
15. Can I Live II


It Was Written

1. Album Intro
2. The Message
3. Street Dreams
4. I Gave You Power
5. Watch Dem Niggas
6. Take It In Blood
7. Nas Is Coming
8. Affirmative Action
9. The Set Up
10. Black Girl Lost
11. Suspect
12. Shootouts
13. Live Nigga Rap
14. If I Ruled The World
15. Silent Murder

Reasonable Doubt for me. I truthfully enjoy both albums a lot, but its pretty obvious that Reasonable Doubt is quite flawless. I am a bit partial to Jay over Nas to an extent, so I will go with Reasonable Doubt here.

The classic Jay-Z vs Nas topic will never end, but in this debate, it gets more personal because we're here putting two albums up against each other. Reasonable Doubt is probably my favorite Jay-Z album and that says a lot especially because I'm not a fan of post-2003 Jay-Z. Coming of Age is probably my favorite song off the album. From It Was Written, Affirmative Action is my favorite.

But when you put up these two albums to basically battle it out, it's hard to make this choice. Just because I'm a Nas fan doesn't mean that it's better than Reasonable Doubt. For this roundtable, it's a tie. Nas marketed this album really well and it's downright one of his best albums. Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt is a classic that still gets plenty of play from me.

Gotta go with Reasonable Doubt. IWW is a great album, but it's not the classic everybody hypes it up to be. Reasonable was more impactful. I believe that Reasonable is Hov's best album and it trumps most of Nas' discography including IWW. Nas had already proven himself while Jay-Z had SOMETHING TO PROVE. I really love those albums that have some kind of ambition or hunger to it. So in that case, I choose Reasonable.

It Was Written vs Reasonable Doubt. Two classics that were both released in 1996. It was a really tough choice, but I gotta give it to It Was Written. It Was Written was Nas's sophomore masterpiece. It wasn't similar to Illmatic at all. After listening to "The Message", you already knew what kind of album you were gonna get. Nas improved as a lyricist, the production was great, and his flow was improved too. It Was Written has sold over 4 million copies, and I own a copy myself. Reasonable Doubt was a well rounded album. Jay-Z showed off his skills as a lyricist, coming up with some of the best lines in history, such as "And even if Jehovah witness, bet he'll never testify". "D'Evils" & "Can I Live" are also arguably the best songs Jay-Z has ever made. Both albums are classics to me, but It Was Written slightly wins.

Reasonable Doubt is a classic. One of my favorite albums of all time and it will ALWAYS be Jay's best album. The beats were so geechi and smooth with songs like Feelin It and Cashmere Thoughts.  Brooklyn's Finest is a beautiful and somewhat sad song to me, only cause Big is dead, but still. It's still the best song they did together IMO. Can I Live, and the eerie D'evils add depth to this wonderful album. Bring it On and Regrets are great songs as well. It's better than All Eyez on Me which was released the same year definitely, I'll give Jay that. With all that said, It Was Written is my favorite hip hop album of all time. No one is touching Nas on this album. He had to be like 23 or something, so to have so many mature topics and lyricism is astounding. Every song except Nas is Coming is classic and many people can't handle or understand Nas' wisdom on this album, and I'm not surprised. The only drawback from the album is the sparse production. All in all, even with Jay's classic first effort, it's no match for It Was Written.

1996 might have been Hip Hop's best year. Reasonable Doubt and It Was Written both stood the test of time to be considered classics today. Both albums should be considered at least top 3 in Jay and Nas' catalogues respectively by any fan. For me, I have to say IWW is hands down the better album.
Jay was authentic on Reasonable Doubt, none of the gimmicky shit he got into in any of the volume albums. I can get high and zone out to Feelin it or Can I Live any day of the week. Probably not a skippable song on there. Same goes for it Was Written though, where Nas evolved more into the artist he would become for the rest of his unrivaled career. The Message was my favorite Nas track for a while. Add his anthem If I Ruled The World and legendary conceptual track  I Gave You Power and realize how brilliant IWW really is. I love both projects, but Nas gets this one.

This is one of those comparisons that I always told myself "I hope I never have to choose between....", so of course when I learned of the topic, my initial response was simply "smh". Reasonable Doubt is my favorite Jay Z album and It Was Written is my favorite Nas album and both MCs are on my Top 5 of all time. This was tough, super tough, but not impossible. After much thought I had to give it to Nas.

Both albums are great. I don't skip any tracks on either and I listen to them very often, but the reason I chose It Was Written is because Nas is a fantastic storyteller. "The Message" "Affirmative Action" and "Silent Murder" are perfect examples. Then we get "If I Ruled The World" and this song is brilliant. He takes everything wrong with the society he grows up in and what he sees happen, blatantly points them out, but then throws a positive spin on it by taking listeners to a world where none of these issues exist.  Nas' ability shines from track to track.

Reasonable Doubt is great too, Jay's first album was incredible. "22
Two's" STILL has me in awe at the way it was written and executed. Every single track on the album is amazing and I don't skip any ever, but it's entertaining and fun rather than thought provoking and "educational". It definitely is a "feel good" album.

Again, both are in my favorite albums of all time. I love everything about both but It Was Written is the better album.

Both albums are classics and while Reasonable Doubt is in my top 5-7 hip hop albums of all time, It Was Written is in my top 2(ATLiens has the no. 1 spot). While I loved Reasonable Doubt, the mastery of It Was Written is purely undeniable. It is a classic to the core and Nas at his absolute best period. It Was Written takes this one for me.

What about you guys? Make your choice in the comments below.



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