GZA, Tupac, Rakim, there are rappers out there who inspire more than just heavy play rotation. These artists offer great hooks over hot beats, but beyond that, they reward further inspection. The deeper you go into Liquid Swords or Follow the Leader, the more you discover. Perhaps no other rapper has inspired as much deep analysis as Nas.
Illmatic remains one of the most lauded albums of all time, in any genre, with its lyrics taking on new meaning with every listen. While critics have been reluctant to put another Nas album in the same canon as Illmatic, standout tracks like Rewind and I Gave You Power showcase a writer who can flip hip hop in surprising ways.
Time is Illmatic, a new documentary on the rapper, focused on the making of Nas’ classic debut album, premieres at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, and is set to receive the Inaugural Candescent Award. The award is part of an initiative by Tribeca to award grants to documentary projects.
Directed by multimedia artist One9 and co-produced by Erik Parker, the doc goes beneath the surface with interviews and archive footage to paint a portrait of the artist as a young man, the culture surrounding the writing and production of the album and the cultural impact of its release. The doc will go into the musical lineage in Nas’ family, including a look at jazz musician father Olu Dara, as well as the support system that Nas had around him in the late 80’s and early 90’s, including family members and his Queensbridge crew.
Opening night for Time is Illmatic will be held on April 16th at the fest, just three days before the exact date of the anniversary of the release of the classic album two decades ago.