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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Nas: Time is Illmatic
Nas: Time is Illmatic
Kino // Unrated // February 3, 2015
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Kurt Dahlke | posted March 8, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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Time Is Illmatic:
I listened to only the good stuff (Kool & The Gang) from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack in my mom's basement in the '70s. Funk on KBOO, (Bootsy, GrandMaster Flash) and then kind of drifted into an obsession with British pop. Go Figure. Things changed again when 3 Feet High and Rising by De La Soul came out, leading me to spend much time with Native Tongues and such-like, but I am no Hip-Hop scholar. I do like a great music documentary, though. Time Is Illmatic isn't great, but it's close.

Nas grew up in the projects in Queens, New York, living a complex life. Featuring reminsiscences from Nas' brother, dad, and the folks he used to hang out with at Queensbridge, Time paints a clear picture of how Nas got his start in Hip-Hop, a start which essentially placed him at the top of the game.

Director One9 does a fantastic job making the past seem real, blending casual converstations with Nas' old friends as they stroll through the Projects on a summer night, with archival footage of early concerts. Interviews with Nas' family and Nas himself, talking about their upbringing, would complete the foundation of any good documentary, and here serve also to underscore what mad Nas' breakout album so special.

Nas is painted as an artist who speaks the truth passionately, but avoids being pedantic. Footage from later concerts shows the air of adulation and excitement he inspires. Segments featuring Nas talking about himself tell us why; his thoughtful examination of life as he lives it, and of what it's all worth, can only make good lyrics and great music when paired with Nas' early producers, MC Serch, Large Professor and Q-Tip.

Overall, Time Is Illmatic perfectly reflects Nas in an era, with archival footage and contemporary interviews. There's no doubt Illmatic is a very important album, while Nas' reflection on his parents is truly poignant. There isn't much, however, that gives the documentary the crazy spark that Beats, Rhymes, And Life has. Perhaps Nas is just too grounded, too normal. Fans of Nas and Illmatic will find this documentary essential. This casual fan found something rock solid, but at 74 minutes and with a fairly even keel, slightly lacking in the fire Nas' music represents. Rent It, but for serious fans it's Recommended.

The DVD

Video:
Time does not look ill in this 1.78:1 ratio transfer. Archival clips are of course a bit rough looking, and interview segments vary somewhat in quality as well. Interviews featuring Nas on a studio set are super slick. Overall, it's a fine documentary, visually, and there are no complaints.

Sound:
Your audio options are Dolby 5.1 surround and Dolby 2.0 stereo. Either choice is a good one, there is some degradation to the audio in early concert footage of course, but in general everything sounds solid. Interview segments are up front and easy to understand, while the music is mixed in at a fine level, not overpowering, but forceful. The 5.1 gives you a little more oomph.

Extras:
Remembering Illmatic is an hour-long track-by-track examination of the album featuring Nas and others giving you the low-down. An essential and excellent inclusion. You also get 22 minutes of Deleted Scenes, of which, scenes of DJs from the projects speaking on perfecting their craft are the most entertaining. A four-minute EPK, Hennessy Presents a Look Inside Nas: Time is Illmatic does a good job letting One9 explain the 10-year process of making this documentary, while the Trailer and a two-minute blip, Nas, Twenty Years Later rounds things out.

Final Thoughts:
Fans of Nas and Illmatic will find this documentary essential. This casual fan found something rock solid, but at 74 minutes and with a fairly even keel, slightly lacking in the fire Nas' music represents. Rent It, but for serious fans it's Recommended.

- Kurt Dahlke

~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com

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