Time Is Illmatic review

“This ain’t just about music,” we’re told in One9’s sharp, sure doc about Illmatic, the genre-raising 1994 album from New York rapper Nas. Tracing Nasir Jones back to the crack-scarred, gun-scared Queensbridge projects of his youth, One9 sets the nascent star’s rise to a backdrop of depravation and danger. Well-chosen talking heads include an on-point Q-Tip.

More of Nas wouldn’t hurt, but when we hear about the fates of his friends (some dead, many inside…), a wide-reaching tale locks into focus: one about hope through music, told with style, feeling and economic punch.

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