Nas’ ‘Time Is Illmatic': Documentary Recounts The Making Of A Classic Hip-Hop Album

New doc focused on rapper's seminal 1994 debut album opens Tribeca Film Festival.

NEW YORK — When Nasir Jones was about 13 or 14 years old, his father told him and his brother Jabari that if school wasn’t nurturing them, they should drop out. An exceedingly well-read, Mississippi-born jazz musician who went by his “ancestral name” of Olu Dara, the father looked around at the Queensbridge Houses where his sons and their mother had settled and gambled that his boys could do better on their own. A young, precocious Nas took him up on the offer.

In the soulful new documentary “Time Is Illmatic,” which kicked off the Tribeca Film Festival on Wednesday night, filmmakers Erik Parker and One9 pick up the narrative just as Nas is trying to figure out how to transcend his surroundings. It’s New York City in the mid-1980s, and like many New York City ’hoods and housing projects, Queensbridge has been ravaged by the crack cocaine epidemic and gun violence.

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