Twenty years after its release, rapper Nas’s debut album Illmatic remains one of the most influential and innovative hip-hop albums of all time. In his film Time is Illmatic, set for UK day and date release 24 October, multi-media visual artist One9 takes Nas back to his childhood neighbourhood of Queensbridge, New York and traces the how young Nasir Jones redefined hip-hop and created an album that is as powerful and raw today as it was 20 years ago.
Released in 1994, Illmatic is widely credited with changing the landscape of 90’s hip-hop, spearheading hip-hop’s second golden age. With its honest lyrics about life in the projects, it captured and vocalised the angst and the struggles of young black men in America. A huge hit in America and internationally, Illmatic turned Nas into an overnight hip-hop hero and garnered him fame and fortune.
Time is Illmatic delves into Nas’s childhood – from the musical legacy of his jazz musician father Olu Dara, to the daily struggles of his mother Ann Jones, and the social conditions of Queenbridge’s housing projects – showing how these factors contributed to Nas’s worldview. Along the way, it also shows how, with the help of his neighbourhood crew and his brother Jubari “Jungle” Jones, Nas overcame the odds stacked against him to become a hip-hop hero.
Interviewees include: Jubari Jones, Q-Tip, Alicia Keys, Busta Rhymes, Fab 5 Freddy, Swizz Beatz, and Nas.