On July 2, 1996, Nas released one of his most well-known albums. "It Was Written" was more mainstream than his previous music, allowing him to release the best-selling album of his career. Just because it was less underground doesn't mean it was less astounding, though. In honor of the album's 21st anniversary, these are the four best Songs to come from the record, standing the test of time over two decades later.

4. "The Message"

The second track on "It Was Written" was the final single from the album as well. The song actually disses Notorious B.I.G., though many believed it dissed 2Pac instead: "There's one life, one love, so there can only be one King." The rest of the lyrics touched upon the life of somebody who was forced to grow up in the streets, as Nas did.

The song wasn't commercially popular, but Kid Capri's record-scratching remains memorable.

3. "Street Dreams"

This was the very next track on "It Was Written." The song contains an interpolation of the classic Eurythmics track "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)." It was also Nas' first song to make it to the Top 50 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It's another track detailing the problems of growing up in the streets, with the rapper taking aim at the country's education and judicial systems; many of the lyrics are too explicit to print.

2. "If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)"

Lauryn Hill features on the final track of "It Was Written." The song was nominated for a Grammy Award. The lyrics of the track are pretty self-explanatory from the title of the track: what would happen if Nas ruled the world?

Evidently, many of his aspirations would circle around being wealthy, an understandable sentiment for someone coming from very little. But he's far from selfish. He would also try to make the world a better place: "I make Coretta Scott-King mayor the cities/And reverse friends to Willies." It would be quite a different world if Nas was in charge of more than the rap industry.

1. "I Gave You Power"

This was the fourth track on "It Was Written" and the only one on this list that wasn't released as a single. It was produced by the legendary DJ Premier. Nas takes on the identity of a loaded gun and the power and fear that it inspires. Several other rappers ended up trying a similar lyrical strategy on their songs after sensing the brilliance of this execution. This track is often featured on lists detailing the greatest hits of the rapper's legendary career.