It Was Written is the second studio album by American hip hop rapper Nas, released July 2, 1996 on Columbia Records in the United States, Canada and Europe. It also featured distribution in the United Kingdom through Simply Vinyl Records. Primarily produced by the production team Trackmasters, the album served as a departure for Nas from the raw, underground tone of his critically acclaimed debut album, Illmatic (1994), towards a more mainstream sound. As a result, It Was Written features a more polished production and an R&B influence, accompanied by a mafioso concept and lyrical themes. In addition to its several guest artists, the album also marked the first appearance of Nas\\\'s short-lived supergroup The Firm, which included New York City-based rappers Foxy Brown, AZ and Cormega.