Nas: Time Is Illmatic Review

Image for Nas: Time Is Illmatic

Revered rapper Nas is the subject of a hip-hop doc that takes in his rise from the block to blockbusting artist.


The 33 1/3 book series devoted a tome to Nas’ 1994 debut album, Illmatic. Twenty years on, here’s a movie with the same focus, but with the added bonus of having the man who wrote, “Wisdom be leaking out my grapefruit, troop,” plus his friends and family, on board. The result is an artful, punchy documentary, loosely going track-by-track while recounting Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones’ unlikely rise from projects to platinum. The live footage is blistering, the dark undercurrents troubling; at one point, Queens residents who have died or been jailed fade out from a liner-notes photo.

As the man himself once said: "Life's a bitch and then you die." Here's 74 minutes well spent.