Studio: Tribeca Films
Directed by: One9
Reviewed by: Raa Daddy
“What I am today is an extension of what they were then." Right off the top Nas give props to his musical predecessors in Time Is Illmatic, the long awaited and much anticipated documentary revolving around one of Hip-Hop's most respected rhyme slingers. Being brought up in Father Olu Dara's holy house of music, young Nasir Jones was birthed to bless the world with rich sermons reflecting his bullet-riddled and drug infested environment.
The beginning of the film takes us through ‘80s Queensbridge, and tells us how the wealth of knowledge Nas and brother Jungle gained in their father’s library and from the instruments around the house was immeasurable. Despite dilapidation, drugs, and death outside the front door, one young gun found a way to take his passion for music to an entirely different level. Christening himself a hood documentarian, Nasty Nas takes us back to the moment he knew he had to use his gift to shine light on the dire situation around his way at the height of the crack epidemic, and at the same time deal with divorce in the family unit. With fire in his eyes, Jungle even calls pops out at one point on the brink of tears saying, if it weren't for Mama Jones they wouldn't have made it. Imagine your father telling you education is a joke. With a crippling school system, Olu explains how he encouraged his sons to quit school and focus on making it in the real world despite all sorts of backlash from the rest of the family.
God's Son kept his ears open and met up with some key people who would change his life. Visually, this documentary doesn't disappoint with archival footage and never-before-seen clips to rival some of your favourite Hip-Hop docs. Reliving how MC Shan and Marley Marl sparked a movement with The Bridge and inspired one of the best emcees of all time is incredible. “That song...changed everything!” shouts an overly enthusiastic Nas, recalling how South Bronx and then The Bridge Is Over basically ignited Hip-Hop's first all out war on wax with KRS as public enemy number one.
Nas' Live At The BBQ verse changed Hip-Hop…the rest is history. From signing his contract with Columbia Records to recording the debut album to revisiting the an iconic picture inside the booklet, Nas reflects on stories of hope, success, tragedy, and despair in the 20 years since Illmatic dropped.