Nas: Time Is Illmatic (2014)

TV-14   |    |  Documentary, Biography, History

Nas: Time Is Illmatic (2014) Poster

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 ... See full summary »


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Erik Parker

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22 November 2015 | lukejcompton-911-949249
| Life's a bitch and then you die...
(Taken from my letterboxd account:


I want this review to be the longest one I've ever written but it's one of those films that I have so much that I want to say that I'm too overcome to be able to do justice to my feelings and rating.

First of all, I love Nas' music. 'Illmatic' is probably my favourite hip-hop album. It's the only hip-hop album where I like every song on it. Sure there are better and worse ones, but they're all better than great. The tracks on Illmatic are perfect. They're all diverse and all contain various messages and social commentaries. It's a perfect inside into that lifestyle. That is exactly what the documentary encapsulates as well. It frequently contains sections about the relevance of those tracks, and the inspirations Nas found when writing them.

The stories of the inspirations for these songs are just perfect. These songs aren't soulless cash-ins, they're authentic stories on life in the hood, and what has happened to these people. It was really profound hearing about Ill Will, and everything that happened to Nas and his friends. When Jungle is looking at the picture of the hood group and going through where they all are, I just knew that everything here was just so apt and perfect.

This is one of those documentaries that only hits this hard when you have a big interest in the source material. As someone who LOVES 'Illmatic', I was bound to love this. I loved the use of each track, and how they all fit in. The editing (both sound and visually) is amazing. It knew exactly when to sync music and stop it. It worked so well.

Hearing the stories behind the songs is probably my favourite part about the documentary. Finding out that Nas' dad did the sax solo for 'Life's A Bitch' really took me aback. I loved that solo and it just came from Nas telling his dad to do whatever he felt like playing. Just fascinating.

Nas changed hip-hop. There cannot be any argument against that. He made songs that actually meant something. He was telling the world exactly what life in the hood is like. The documentary gives a good insight in the effect of that album, and what it took to make it. Everything that brought Nas to 1994.

Nas is king. Illmatic is everything hip-hop should be. This documentary tells you the incredible story of how it happened. The anecdotes are brilliant, and really hold the piece together well. This is a documentary that understands its focus, and doesn't just have famous people saying how great it is. It mainly has Nas and his peers telling the truth about how things were. It's much better than a biopic version could be.

Overall, I think I've written enough to be satisfied. It's taken me over 90 minutes to write this. This documentary perfectly says everything about one of the all-time best hip-hop albums. It tells you everything you need to know, and satisfies any fan of Nas. It's just about the defining era of Nas' career. It doesn't talk about his other albums after. It just looks at before Illmatic, during Illmatic, and then the present day aftermath of Illmatic. It's inspiring, fascinating and just magnificent. A must see for hip-hop fans. The ending to this movie was just breathtaking. I LOVED that ending scene. At first I thought it was forced but once it got going, WHOA, what a smart way to end it.

*deep sigh of relief*

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Documentary | Biography | History | Music

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