By Matthew Ismael Ruiz
Time is Illmatic, the debut feature film from Eric Parker and One9, debuted Wednesday night to a packed house at the Beacon Theater in New York to open the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. A documentary film centered around the creation of Nas’ classic 1994 album Illmatic, it combines archival footage and photos from Nas’ career with interviews with his family; his brother Jabari (aka “Jungle”), and his father, the trumpet player Olu Dara.
Before the premiere, TFF co-founders Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal worked the red carpet with fellow actors Michael K. Williams, Jemima Kirke, and Michael Rapaport, and hip-hop royalty like Fab 5 Freddy, Raekwon the Chef, and Pete Rock were also in attendance. Deniro cracked jokes before kicking off the festival by introducing Parker and One9, who would later receive the highest of praise from their subject, Nas himself.
“You did a great job showing me where I came from,” Nas said during a post-screening performance of Illmatic’s nine songs. And where he came from is the Queensbridge houses, a public housing project in Queens that has been birthing musicians for decades, and was instrumental in shaping Nas’ life and career. The mythos of Queensbridge permeated the entire event.
Having changed from a tailored blue suit into all-black cargo pants and long-sleeve T, Nas stalked the stage with supreme confidence, brandishing a bottle of Hennessy, a cognac for which he is now an official spokesman. How far he has come since the Genesis.