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📣TITLE: I Gave You Power
💿ALBUM: It Was Written
Through personification, the speaker of this song takes the point of view of an illegal handgun caught up in the kind of violence that characterized Nas’ upbringing in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and the Queensbridge Houses of Long Island City, Queens.
Complex Magazine interviewed DJ Premier, Nas, Tone & Steve Stoute (Nas’ manager) about the track.
« I was struggling with the fact that people wouldn’t get it [that’s why I said I was a gun in the intro]. I underestimated that the audience thinking they wouldn’t get what I was talking about. They were telling me, ‘They gonna get it.’ And I’m like, ‘No, they’re not going to know.’ So I kept it there. »
« I was around a lot of guns then. Guns were in my sleep, in my car, in my home, guns were on my person, guns were on my friends. That’s how much they were around. There was so much around me that I rapped about it. It’s crazy to think about that today, but it was my reality. It was in my head 24/7. »
I was on tour with Gang Starr and I was just getting back. I was going right back out to go to Japan. So I didn’t have any time to make any other beats for It Was Written. But Nas said, ‘I want to make a record as if I was a gun.’
We started messing around, trying to figure out what he’s going to do, and we finally figured out a way, because he said, ‘Maybe I should do a skit where I drop the gun and somebody else finds it.’
And that’s how it all built, and I said, ‘You know what? Instead of making this a hard mean shit, let me make it sound sad.’ Because he said I’m going to be the gun talking about being tired of all the stuff I’m doing to people. That’s why I put that emotion behind it
[In the song,] Nas stutters and he makes a mistake but they kept it anyway.
I always wanted to take the part off the record, where he goes, ‘It’s like I’m a gun.’ I didn’t want him to give the hook away. I always wanted him to take that out but we never took it out.
« Sometimes Nas gets in this mode where he doesn’t want you to change anything. We were so far along in the album that he was feeling so good about the album, that he was like, ‘Yo just keep everything the way it is.’ The album was special, at that point, because that was one of the last records. So he was like, ‘Nah, we’re leaving everything the way it is.’