‘Nas: Time Is Illmatic’ – Documentary Write-Up

With Illmatic cemented as one of the greatest of all time, as you’d expect there’s been a decent amount of hype around the release of this documentary, Nas: Time Is Illmatic. And while we’re still waiting on our copy to drop so we can watch for ourselves, early reports are pretty positive, with a bit of interesting feedback stating Nas’ brother, Jungle Jones, is the real star of the One9 directed feature.

Despite it’s name and being released on the 20th anniversary of the seminal LP, the documentary isn’t actually a focus on the creation of Illmatic. Rather, you’ve got a more straight-forward story of Nas and family growing up, and what made the ‘street’s disciple’ become who many consider to be the greatest rapper of all time.

One of the crew got behind a screening in London, and had some words on the matter.

I wish the film started like it ended.

Did you know Nas has a brother called Jungle? I didn’t.

Did you know Nas was a resident of Queensbridge, rather than London Bridge? I did.

Film Producers said this film was 10 years in the making and fundraised independently since 2004. You hear this as an intro before screening and you’re forgiven for thinking this feels like a reach, you know a reach, right? A “reach” is what you fear on an episode of X Factor / American Idol when a contestant reaches for seat at the judge’s house by requiring viewers ignore the fact they sound nothing like Mary J, but demand some Blige vibes for their bank account in making us mortgage their sob story.

Ironically, whilst this film salutes the 20 year impact of ILLMATIC around the globe (from London Bridge to Tennessee) maybe the film’s significance is irrelevant for 2014. Of course you must see it on general release, but this film will have its power 20 years down the line as a genuine reflection of ILLMATIC NAS and his significance amongst peers and fans.

Those around when album was released in ’94 can fondly reminisce on why the album means so much. Debut ears tuning in 2014 beyond can decide for themselves whether ILLMATIC NAS is their preference.

Congratulations to those responsible for producing something watchable without feeling like a drama-mentury or standard cliché. It was fantastic that the story for the album cover was also touched upon, because this cover (alongside the inner sleeve pictures) expressed an amazing MC bursting through with his neighbourhood. Whilst album sales and fat pockets are the game, respect from your neighbourhood can never be purchased.

If someone could serve up a representation for MF DOOM – we can meet again in 20 and compare notes on his excellence.

Working at a CD store back in 2004, I distinctly remember debating with myself whether to shell out the twenty bucks on the ‘Ten Year Anniversary Platinum Series’, now paired with an unmemorable bonus disc of some description. I did drop the cash at the time, with an unspoken belief that this would be the last time to grab a fresh copy.

Something tells me however, that every decade or five years we’ll be brought to remember Nas’ contribution from ’94, and that Time Is Illmatic is the latest in this chapter. God knows how many copies of ‘It Ain’t Hard To Tell’ in various forms I must have, but I still grabbed a copy of the double plate 180gm press of this year’s edition of Illmatic, as well as the transparent vinyl press of remixes and b-side (which alone has three versions of the above mentioned track).

The film’s available via on-demand and iTunes, though for us in the physical world we’re hanging for the DVD. Check the trailer below, and for screenings or more information you can hit up the main page here: http://timeisillmatic.com/

Twenty years after the release of Nas’s groundbreaking debut album ‘Illmatic,’ NAS: TIME IS ILLMATIC takes us into the heart of his creative process. Returning to his childhood home in Queensbridge, Nas shares stories of his upbringing, his influences — from the music of his jazz musician father Olu Dara to the burgeoning hip-hop scene in New York City — and the obstacles he faced before his major label signing at age 20. Featuring interviews with his ‘Illmatic’ producers (Large Professor, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, L.E.S., and DJ Premier) and musical peers (including Pharrell Williams and Alicia Keys), NAS: TIME IS ILLMATIC is a thrilling account of Nas’s evolution from a young street poet to a visionary MC.