VIFF 2014 Film Review: Nas: Time is Illmatic

Dec 19 2017, 8:20 pm

Nas: Time is Illmatic is a documentary that delves into the inspiration and creation of one of the most influential rap albums of all time, Illmatic. With in depth interviews and behind the scenes footage, this doc not only focuses on the artistic process but also gives you a private look into Nas’ s upbringing and personal life with the artists closests friends and family including Alicia Keys, Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes, Swizz Beats, Pharrell Williams and many more.

The Good – Passion Personified


One thing I can say about this doc is that even if you’re not a hip hop fan, there will be something that everyone can take away from this. Whether it’s inspiration to go and chase your dreams or witness how lightning is caught in a bottle, you will be glad you choose to see this film.

I loved how Nas’ passion for music was personified in his family and friends. You get a very detailed blueprint of the man’s humble beginnings from the people in his life that got him where he is today. That is what makes this film memorable and why it will stick with you after the film is over.

By not sticking to just the conventional behind-the-scenes studio shots, and focusing more on personal, in depth interviews with family and friends, you start to feel a personal connection to Nas and you’re there cheering him on as his star and talent grows bigger throughout the film.

The Bad – ……..


Truth is there really isn’t anything bad I can say about this documentary. If you are someone who is against hip hop as a genre or as Nas as an artist, then you may be disinterested in the subject matter being told. I feel that the story itself is enough to keep you engaged and involved in the production no matter what your views on hip hop are.

If you don’t know know anything about the Illmatic album, by the end of this film, you will know why it was so popular when it came out. It reflects and paints a very detailed picture about a certain time and place, when Nas’ hometown of Queensborough, New York was going through a bad wave of crack addiction and crime. Illmatic was more of a statement of the times and once you watch this documentary, you will understand its influence even if you know nothing about the genre, and that’s why I believe this film to be so transcendent and unabashedly good.



Most music documentaries seem to take their subject matter at face value and never seem to get to the heart of the story being told. Nas: Time is Illmatic is a comprehensive, interested and in-depth look at a young man who was raised in Queensborough New York, and through his environment of drugs, addiction and poverty, decided to express his views on the world around him through poetry.

With choosing to go with a personal touch with family and friends rather than the typical, “Look at how many celebrity think i’m great!” routine, Nas: Time is Illmatic is a journey that you will be glad you took.

Great production value, solid camera work, amazing personal information on Nas, the album Illmatic, and his family life, if you weren’t a fan of Nas or Hip Hop in general before, then after watching this doc, you just might be one.

Rating: 9/10


Nas: Time Is Illmatic is now available for download through ITunes 

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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