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 ...
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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. Written by
Succinct, satisfying examination of a notable hip hop icon
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning
To mark the twentieth anniversary of it's release last year, Nas's Illmatic was re-released for a new generation of hip hop fans to discover. Having recognised Nas as one of my more favoured hip hop performers, I brought a copy myself, and it's not hard to see why it put the musical genre on the map quite as much as it did. He's definitely one of mine, and it would seem many other, people's favourite rap performers, and coinciding with the album, it seems this equally timely and more revealing documentary was also released, delving in to the history of Nas and how his musical influences probably dated back further even than his birth, with his father an accomplished jazz performer, providing him with an inspiration that would propel him away from an almost predestined life of crime to a positive, outspoken role model to millions of fans.
Although he was another rapper who grew up in 'the projects', surrounded by crime in Queensbridge, New York, we learn that Nas enjoyed a more cultured, educated living environment at home than probably the vast majority of those around him did, with access to literature and poetry books from his teacher mother, to the point where his own father supported him in his decision to drop out of school early, feeling unchallenged and uncared for in the education system. Then an unforeseen tragic event propelled him to put everything in to his ambition as a hip hop artist, and by his late teens, he'd wowed the right people, made the right connections and before he knew it, his titular album was on the shelves. As the driving force of the documentary, we delve in to the social significance and emotional resonance behind each of the tracks, gaining insight in to what made the album such an enduring masterpiece.
It's all wrapped up nice and smoothly, at just over seventy minutes, cramming a lot of interesting information in to such a short time frame. It's no less a labour of love, a revealing insight in to one of the more articulate, intriguing, hard hitting and distinctive icons of the hip hop genre. ****
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