What Motivated The Greatest Album of a Generation
By Emanuela Balliu
Time is Illmatic is a documentary film released in October that takes a closer look at Nas’, a legendary Queens rapper, early life and the accomplishment of his first album.
Nas spoke of his philosophies and demonstrateed a strong sense of poetry through his songs. Major artists such as Alicia Keys, Swiss Beats, Busta Rhymes and many more start the film by revealing their love for Nas and describes how they were inspired by his work.
Nas’ birth name is Nasir Jones. He was born in New York City, raised in Queensbridge, and comes from a long line of musicians and hardworking parents. However, growing up in the projects, Nas confesses that he was forced to become a man early to deal with everything around him.
Olu and Anne were parents to Jabari, who’s also known as “Jungle”, and Nasir Jones. The fil describes the parents as very hardworking individuals who provided a good home with nice things for their sons. Mrs. Jones was the type of woman who everyone loved and who’s cooking was so irresistable that everyone wanted to come over her house to eat. She was not the type of woman who cursed and spoke “street stuff.” She was a woman who made sure her sons had everything they needed and provided a stable home within that neighborhood.
Unfortunately, when Nas and his brother were still young boys, their parents split up. Jabari revealed that his father gave him the “you’re the man of the house now” speech, telling him he is not going to be around anymore.
Olu Jones walked out on his family, and although Anne Jones never spoke ill of him, she didn’t allow him back into her house. Jabari Jones brings viewers to tears when he revealed that he would look out the window and wait for his father, who never came back.
Anne Jones passed away at the height of Nas’ musical fame. Mr. Jabari, indiscreetly, revealed that, although he loves his father, it’s unjust that he takes all the credit of raising them because it was really their mother that built them into the men they are today.
Another important man in Nas’ life was Willie “Ill-will” Graham, who was described as someone who looked at the world differently and was a great friend of Nas’. The two would always be together and Nas spoke of him as someone who “made you laugh.” They played songs together. although back then they were just “playing around.”
Graham’s life was quickly cut short. After getting high, Willie Graham had gotten into an argument with a girl and she napped his chain. Graham lost his temper and beat her. The young girl then called all the men she knew, they accumulated, and shot Graham to death.
This scene is set carefully by Jabari, who was also present at the time of the shooting. The death of someone who was supposed to change the world alongside Nas is what pushed him to become serious about his music career.
Power Play Studio, where Nas recorded his first single at 15 years old, easily concluded that it was the beginning of the rise of “Nasty” Nas. From a single which featured a few other upcoming artists at the time Nas’ line, “I was twelve and went to hell for snuffing Jesus,” made music producers go out and search for him.
Nasir Jones was signed to Columbia records and thus started the creation of the Illmatic. The album cover was created with only one photographer and included people who didn’t like each other, in the neighborhood who came outside to pose for it.
In the conclusion of the film, Nas created a fellowship with Harvard University to supply those who show a great ability as artists and scholars with an opportunity to demonstrate that “education is power.”
This documentary was created to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Illmatic. In this album, he speaks of the truth and brings into light the pain among the people in the projects. He showed what it’s like to be incarcerated with just one song, “One Love.” He captured the pain in people and lets them know “The world is yours”.
Nas shows what it is like to bring young people down and supported them by saying they are not alone in each song. Nas said that his goal with the album was to capture that “hip hop was changing and in a way that no one else could.” Nas provided a sense of enlightenment to his fans in just his first album.