Title – NAS: Time is Illmatic (2014)
Director – One9 (feature debut)
Cast – Nas, Q-Tip, Fab 5 Freddy
Plot – A look into the life and times of New York rapper Nas and what influenced him in creating the timeless album classic, The Illmatic.
“Every block is like a maze”
Review by Eddie on 9/07/2015
For any fans of rap/hip hop, One9’s insightful and to the point documentary centred around Nas and his cornerstone album The Illmatic is a must see film as it offers an easy to understand and often illuminating look into the beginnings of Nas and what drew him to write material that became such a huge hit commercially and industry wise.
Nas comes across here as a thoughtful and thankful artist that is never unsure of where he came from or why he started doing what he does so well. The film however never focuses for too long on Nas alone and discovers some truly great characters along the way to discuss his life whether it be Nas’s father, brother or record producers every talking head here has something informative to say and speaks honestly and openly about the ups and downs of growing up in the rough neighbourhood of Queensbridge New York, that through this documentary becomes alive with history and song.
One9 does a fantastic job or capturing the essence of this neighbourhood, the high-rise apartments and the bustling streets, you can feel how someone in the vein of Nas was inspired, shocked and formed to the artist he became. Loss of live on these streets was a common occurrence, drugs was not only a hobby but a way of live and music was an out, an event that allowed people to vent their frustrations or talk about their lives to those in it and those many worlds away from it. There are some particularly poignant moments here from Nas’s personal experiences with the loss of friends or another moment where we realise that those who grew up around Nas are far less fortunate than him, a photo showing faces of young man that have mostly wallowed in a life of crime and violence instead of bettering themselves to a life more abundant.
Time Is Illmatic is neither ground-breaking nor over stylised yet it’s a wonderfully down to earth and accessible look into the life of Nas and the creation of an artist born into a particular set of circumstances. We don’t go away feeling like we know Nas inside and out but we do get a gage on what makes him tick and also a reminder that for many, rap and hip hop is a ways to a better life and also an art form that speaks for not only for a generation but also entire communities.
3 and a half street BBQ’s out of 5