Nas’ “Time is Illmatic” opens the Tribeca Film Festival

| April 15, 2014
Lilly Hartley’s Candescent Films announced a multi-year initiative with Tribeca Film Institute to support documentary film through the Candescent Award. The Award’s inaugural recipient will be Time is Illmatic, which is opening this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. The award is a grant given through the Tribeca Film Institute.
Time is Illmatic, from director/producer One9 and producer Erik Parker, delves deep into the making of Nas’ 1994 debut album, Illmatic, and the social conditions that influenced its creation. Twenty years after its release, Illmatic has become a hip-hop benchmark that encapsulates the socio-political outlook, enduring spirit and collective angst of a generation of young black men searching for their voice in America . The documentary examines the social conditions and environmental influences that contributed to Nas’ worldview.
“Time is Illmatic is a lyrical film that inspires us to overcome social and economic challenges and celebrates cultural history,” said Hartley. “I am honored to support the heartbeat of this film through the Candescent Award. Candescent’s partnership with the TFI is exciting to me, as they provide vital resources to emerging artists and the documentary community.”
Ryan Harrington, Vice President, Artist Programs, Tribeca Film Institute, added: “As with all of our grantees, TFI is honored to have had the great opportunity to work with Time is Illmatic throughout the film’s creative process – from giving it a Tribeca All Access grant for production in 2013, through choosing it for a Tribeca All Access Alumni grant for editing in 2014, to now with this Candescent Award to help get it to the finish line.”
Nas is equally as excited: “I want to thank the TFF for supporting the film with the incredible platform they’ve built over the years,” he said. “It’s an honor to premiere this film in my hometown. I also want to thank One9 and Erik Parker for their persistence and hard work. Those guys and I come from the same place and era, which gives the doc an authenticity that is important to me. We wanted this film to represent the real, from the storyline all the way down to the directors and producers.”
Psalm One, a Chicago-based rapper, was also congratulatory on Nas’ recognition. “Nas is one of the most influential rappers of his day. I remember not quite understanding why everyone was so amazed by him, and it took me years of honing my own craft and doing my own hip hop studies to do so,” Psalm One said. “I remember, however, feeling like he was a kindred spirit, because he rapped with a chipped tooth, just like me, for years. He is truly one of the greatest rappers of all time, with a discography that trumps most.” She continued: “One of my favorite rap songs by Nas is his debut single, The World is Yours. It ushered in what some like to call The Golden Era of hip hop. Looking back on the genre as a whole, and Nas’ extraordinary career….he was right.”
The documentary and festival are deeply rooted in New York City, says Jane Rosenthal, CEO and Co-founder of TFF. “But It represents and reaches communities far beyond, and the film spotlights a musical journey with community and family at its core, and we look forward to celebrating this pivotal moment in hip hop history as we open our 13th edition.”
Nas has taken his life experiences and shared them with the world, said One9. “Throughout the journey, we see the metamorphosis of Nas as a young street poet, full of a rich musical legacy, transforming the pain and isolation of growing up in Queensbridge Houses into raw, honest lyrics, illuminating a spirit that inspired generations from the past, present and the future. Experiencing the stories, passion and energy of a modern-day alchemist shaping lyrical dust to diamonds was truly an honor, and we are extremely proud to premiere the film at Tribeca.”
The screening of the documentary will be followed by a special musical performance by Nas. For more information about the Tribeca Film Festival, which ends on April 27, and its online offerings, visit

About the Author:

Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago. She is the author of "Old School Adventures from Englewood--South Side of Chicago" and the proud parent of "the smart rapper"--chemist-turned-rapper, turned humanitarian...Psalm One!
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