The World Is Yours
by Nas

Songfacts®:

  • This song deals with the struggles Nas faced growing up in New York City, or as he calls it in this song, "The Rotten Apple." Some of the challenges he raps about overcoming include poverty, violence and racist cops.
  • Pete Rock produced this track, which is based on a sample of "I Love Music" by the jazz musician Ahmad Jamal. Rock was playing Jamal's 1970 album The Awakening when he heard the track and started integrating the drums. When Nas heard what he was up to, the rapper suggested that Rock sing the hook instead, which he did.

    Also sampled in this song is "It's Yours" by T La Rock.
  • Nas got the idea for the title from the movie Scarface. In the film, Al Pacino's character Tony Montana is in his mansion when a blimp flies by with the message "The World Is Yours." The blimp was advertising Pan American airlines, but Montana, in a solipsistic state, saw it as a sign.
  • The Illmatic album was Nas' debut, so it represented his life to that point. Speaking with Songfacts, he said a lot of it represents the time from when he was 16 until four years later when it was released. In that time, he made sure it didn't feel dated. "I saw what was working, what wasn't working," he said. "I saw artists make bad decisions. I trusted the sound, and that the listener would really feel comfortable with that sound, which really represents most of the elements of hip-hop music."
  • Q-Tip produced a remix of this song with new lyrics. It was released as a single and had its own music video.
  • Jay-Z, who at one point became a bitter rival to Nas, sampled this for the chorus of his first single, "Dead Presidents." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Donovan Berry - El Dorado, AR, for above 2
  • Nas predicted the birth of his two children on this track, when he raps:

    Thinking a word best describing my life to name my daughter
    My strength, my son, the star will be my resurrection


    Nas later had a daughter named Destiny, followed by a son named Knight.
  • A few years after this song was released, the basketball star Shaquille O'Neal appropriated a similar phrase - "The World Is Mine," which he abbreviated to TWIsM. He got a tattoo of the acronym and started a record label and clothing line under that moniker.

Comments: 1

  • Jack from Salem, Orgreatest rap song ever. no question
see more comments

Editor's Picks

George Clinton

George ClintonSongwriter Interviews

When you free your mind, your ass may follow, but you have to make sure someone else doesn't program it while it's wide open.

Meshell Ndegeocello

Meshell NdegeocelloSongwriter Interviews

Meshell Ndegeocello talks about recording "Wild Night" with John Mellencamp, and explains why she shied away from the spotlight.

AC/DC

AC/DCFact or Fiction

Does Angus really drink himself silly? Did their name come from a sewing machine? See if you can spot the real stories about AC/DC.

Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues

Justin Hayward of The Moody BluesSongwriter Interviews

Justin wrote the classic "Nights In White Satin," but his fondest musical memories are from a different decade.

Rickie Lee Jones

Rickie Lee JonesSongwriter Interviews

Rickie Lee Jones on songwriting, social media, and how she's handling Trump.

Steely Dan

Steely DanFact or Fiction

Did they really trade their guitarist to The Doobie Brothers? Are they named after something naughty? And what's up with the band name?