233) Nas: Time Is Illmatic (2014)
Time Is Illmatic is a feature length documentary film that delves deep into the making of Nas’ 1994 debut album, Illmatic, and the social conditions that influenced its creation. Twenty years after its release, Illmatic has become a hip-hop benchmark that encapsulates the socio-political outlook, enduring spirit, and collective angst of a generation of young black men searching for their voice in America.
7/10 – A very well polished documentary exploring the background to the Nas album, ‘Illmatic’. I hadn’t really given the album much of a listen before, I’d heard of Nas, seen him live with Damien Marley and was first introduced to his music via the excellent skateboarding video “Yeah Right” where the instrumental of the tune ‘Get Down’ was used with Paul Rodriguez’s section. It prompted me to look a little further, but not enough to uncover illmatic.
What is great about this documentary, is how accessible it is. It speaks on many levels, and provides you the insight to appreciate the significance of an album that you may or may not have even heard of before. It succeeds in it’s ability to tell a good story, and as I said with the previous review a good story can still mean a mediocre documentary in the wrong hands. Nas and his brother are such interesting subject matter, but it could have quite easily been a simplistic and dull affair.
No doubt this album was one of many released at this time, and if anyone knows of any documentaries that explore the wider movement of Hip-Hop in this era I would be keen to know. It’s obviously very one-dimensional, in that it’s focussing on just Nas, and I wouldn’t expect anything less – but it would be interesting to see more and build out from this.
Writing this has made me wanted to listen to the album again…