If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)

If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)

Nas (Ft. Lauryn Hill)

Nas' exercise in Utopianism – inspired by Sir Thomas More (and Kurtis Blow).

Nas told Complex:

Being a hip-hop fan and Krush Groove fan, Kurtis Blow was my favorite rapper when I was a kid. He sang “If I Ruled the World” and I thought that was a huge chorus.

This song was Nas’s attempt at wider appeal:

I felt like B.I.G. had changed the playing field [of rap music] in a great way. You couldn’t be talking about you’re the Don of the city and your record is only resonating to a couple of street people. If we’re the Don, that means I need Mayor Giuliani dancing to my songs.

Stevie Wonder had everybody dancing to his songs, so if I’m going to be great, I’m going to make a great record that you can’t hold back. When I’m on the radio, I’m going to have you singing along, ‘I’d open every cell in Attica, send ‘em to Africa,’ and ‘Imagine smoking weed in the streets without cops harassing.’

That should be mainstream, that shouldn’t just be in the streets. The whole world should hear my voice, hear my point of views in my street language. We turned the lights on. I showed them I could put on a Gucci suit with Wallabees and that’s the streets but the streets to the next level.

Steve Stoute:

The song was a step away from what you heard on Illmatic. That’s why in the beginning of the ‘If I Ruled The World’ video, Nas does the rap from ‘The Message’ first, then he snaps his fingers, and the song starts.