If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)” is a single by Nas featuring Lauryn Hill, released on June 4, 1996. Produced by Trackmasters, with some uncredited input by Rashad Smith, it is based on the 1985 hit of the same name by American rapper Kurtis Blow and samples the beat of “Friends” by Whodini. The single was Nas’s first Top 20 R&B hit, and marked Lauryn Hill’s first musical appearance outside of the Fugees
Lauryn Hill’s verse interpolates the song “Walk Right Up To The Sun” by The Delfonics. The song discusses Nas’s perspective on what a perfect world would be. It includes multi-racial equality, a reformed/removed prison system coupled with more responsibility for parents to raise their children to be wise, productive, and helpful. It is considered one of the greatest rap songs of all time by many publications. It was also ranked 88 on XXL’s Best Songs of the 1990s.
“If I Ruled the World”, bolstered by a high-budget music video directed by Hype Williams and designed by visual artist and designer Ron Norsworthy, became Nas’s first single to gain mainstream notice. The single reached number 53 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, number 17 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart, and number 15 on the Billboard Hot Rap Tracks chart. The song was nominated for a 1997 Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance.