Song of the Week: Nas feat. Lauryn Hill – “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)”

For the first Song of the Week in 2024 (last week, we featured the Best of 2023 version), I thought choosing “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)” by Nas would be quite inspirational. (The proper pick would actually be “The World Is Yours,” but stay with me.) The reason “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)” is the Song of the Week is that I’ve been listening to it a lot lately, based on my recent fascination with how crazy the beat on “Friends” by Whodini actually is (which “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)” uses).

Additional thoughts on “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)” by Nas:

While I was aware of Illmatic back in the day, this song and the music video served as my full introduction to Nas.

Speaking of the music video, it had the patented (and expensive) Hype Williams touch. It felt like watching a movie on BET back in the day, but looking at it now, it doesn’t hold up well due to the random shots in the video. Still a good video though.

In 1996, Lauryn Hill was on the full come-up. She hadn’t gone solo yet, and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill wouldn’t be out for two more years. However, The Score was released earlier that year, and “Killing Me Softly with His Song” was on fire.

Continuing with The Fugees, it took me a few watches to notice them behind Lauryn during the second chorus.

Back to the song, Nas mentions letting Coretta Scott-King “mayor the cities.” Shout out to Jonathan Majors; he probably likes this song.

Trackmasters produced this, and next to Diddy in the ’90s, Trackmasters were sampling EVERYTHING.

Many people view Nasir’s It Was Written era as his sell-out period or something. But besides when he went full mafioso, the lyrics on songs like this feel a lot like what he was talking about on Illmatic. The sell-out stuff didn’t come until “Owe Me” or maybe “Oochie Wally.” (and I fuck with “Oochie Wally”)

But I too have a wish that “every girl I meet would go down-town”.

Lastly, regarding the video, the cameo from AZ and Cormega gave us an early look at The Firm before Nature replaced Cormega. Mega even has the radio edit “shhhh” part.

Kind of related, Saule Wright sent the group chat an Instagram video about a woman talking about never going to a party and somebody requesting a Nas song. I tried to think about it, but she was probably right.

Check out the Song of the Week below: