Nas chooses his words carefully, and it's those choice words that shaped his classic debut, Illmatic, way back in 1994. In turn, it was Illmatic that shaped director One9 and writer Erik Parker's new film "Time is Illmatic," the critically acclaimed documentary that details the rise of one of hip-hop's most celebrated poets.
The film debuted at the opening of the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City back in April, but opens in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on October 1 before hitting On Demand on October 3.
"I think it's super-cool to tell your story if you have a lot of story to tell," Nas told MTV News on Monday.
Twenty years after his debut, it's clear Nas has a story to tell -- he's released 12 solo albums and become one of the biggest names in all of music, working with everyone from Jay Z to Jennifer Lopez. But as open as he is with his lyrics, the usually guarded MC is often reluctant to speak outside of the booth.
"There was a distance at first, just a feel-out process," admitted film director One9, who, along with Parker, began working on the film 10 years ago. "There was a point when he came by the studio and looked at old photos, old video, he looked at what we had on the wall, he felt our energy, that what we were bringing to it. We grew up in hip-hop, this wasn't something that we were coming from the outside in and he felt a connection, a bond."
Once Nas sensed the duo's sincerity, there was a turning point, and his walls began to crumble.
"All we wanted to do was to tell the story of the making of Illmatic. That was 10 years ago, because at that time it hadn't been done and Illmatic was so overlooked," said Parker.
As the first-time filmmakers dove deeper into the rabbit hole, they found that "Time is Illmatic" is about more than just the 10-track classic; it's an American story about a boy who rose from the projects to prominence.
"We decided to make a story that was bigger than just the guy in the booth who's writing poetry," Parker continued.
And with that level of commitment, Nas was all in, ready to tell his story. "I tell it through music, but people really enjoy to hear the truth behind the scenes," he said. "The timing is just right."