MOVIE TICKETS.COM – SEPTEMBER 24, 2014: Interview with One9



MOVIE TICKETS.COM – SEPTEMBER 24, 2014: Interview with One9

Twenty years after the release of Nas’s groundbreaking debut album ‘Illmatic,’ Nas: Time Is Illmatic takes us into the heart of his creative process. Returning to his childhood home in Queensbridge, Nas shares stories of his upbringing, his influences–from the music of his jazz musician father Olu Dara to the burgeoning hip-hop scene in New York City–and the obstacles he faced before his major label signing at age 20.

Featuring interviews with his ‘Illmatic’ producers (Large Professor, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, L.E.S., and DJ Premier) and musical peers (including Pharrell Williams and Alicia Keys), Nas: Time Is Illmatic is a thrilling account of Nas’s evolution from a young street poet to a visionary MC. talks with One9 to discuss his feature directorial debut Nas: Time Is Illmatic, which opens in select theaters Oct. 1, 2 and 10. Nas’ debut album ‘Illmatic’ was released April 19, 1994. Was the release of Nas: Time Is Illmatictied to the album’s 20th anniversary? 
One9: Initially, [writer/producer] Erik Parker reached out to me in 2004–he was the music editor of Vibe magazine. He asked me to come on the project to direct a film about ‘Illmatic.’ When we started the film, we didn’t have any money or any idea about how long the film would take. After we started looking for ways to finish the film, we initially received a research grant from JustFilms at the Ford Foundation and eventually grant money from Tribeca Film Institute. We had no idea the film would eventually come out 10 years after we started it, in 2014 for the 20-year anniversary. Do you think this film could have been made 10 or 15 years ago?
The film that we intended to make was initially a look into the music background of ‘Illmatic.’ After talking with Nas’ father, Olu Dara, and many others, we realized we needed to make a film that went a lot deeper. We felt ‘Illmatic’ deserved a bigger story than the music, more of a historic film that really looked at the social and economic issues, the music legacy, and the family roots.

Pic2 ‘Illmatic’ remains one of hip-hop’s most iconic albums. It’s even been credited with the revival of the New York City rap scene. How do you explain that?
 Nas grew up in Queensbridge and saw firsthand Marly Marl, MC Shan, Roxanne Shante, Tragedy, and many more create their own styles and have impact on the culture. When you’re surrounded by that type of energy, it has an effect on your mind state as an artist. In the film, Nas mentions Large Professor calling him when he was around 15 or 16 years old to come by and bring his rhyme book to work on his demo while studio sessions with Erik B & Rakim and Kool G. Rap were going on. Nas was around some of the greatest lyricists to come out. When ‘Illmatic’ came out he was able to get–at that time–some of the greatest producers in hip-hop, including DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, Large Pro and L.E.S. Nas seemed to always surround himself with greatness. As a result, you can see how ‘Illmatic’ was part of that legacy of cultural exchange and will go down as timeless piece of music.

Pick3 How has the state of hip-hop changed since the album’s release?
 Like any great art, the culture of hip-hop has changed with the times. With the state of technology, music is more accessible and freely exchanged. For hip-hop to grow while keeping a sense of integrity, the essence of the culture has to be handed down and respected like any high form of art. Could ‘Illmatic’ be released today? How would it be received?
 Every few generations has their version of music that reflects the struggles of the culture but shines a light on ways to maneuver through them.  Are there any other albums—hip-hop or not–that have had the same impact as Illmatic?
 In my opinion ‘Illmatic’ carries on in the same way Marvin Gaye’s album ‘What’s Going On’ did in the 70’s. Did you have a relationship with Nas prior to Nas: Time Is Illmatic?
 Erik Parker met Nas as a journalist in 2001 when he was the music editor at the Source magazine. I first met Nas during the making of the film. Nas: Time Is Illmatic is your directorial debut. What inspired you to want to do this film?
As an artist, I was looking for new ways to experiment–and what better way than to try making a film with one of greatest albums of all time? I went with my gut and jumped in. Did Nas have a final say on the documentary? How involved was he in the production?
 Nas came by the studio one day and spent a few hours with us looking at the scenes and rough cuts. He said you guys are making art and I don’t want to interfere. Love that about working with him. He’s a complete artist that we had a trust and bond with.

See Nas: Time is Illmatic in these select cities:

October 1
AMC Empire 25 New York, NY
AMC Burbank Town Center 8 Los Angeles, CA

October 2
AMC Phipps Plaza Atlanta, GA
AMC Southlake 24 Atlanta, GA
AMC Owings Mills 17 Baltimore, MD
AMC Carolina Pavilion 22 Charlotte, NC
AMC Concord Mills 24 Charlotte, NC
AMC Loews Crestwood 18 Chicago, IL
AMC Highlands Ranch 24 Denver, CO
AMC Grapevine Mills 30 Fort Worth, TX
AMC Studio 30 Houston, TX
AMC Orange Park 24 Jacksonville, FL
AMC Aventura 24 Miami, FL
AMC Mayfair Mall 18 Milwaukee, WI
AMC Altamonte Mall 18 Orlando, FL
AMC Arrowhead 14 Phoenix, AZ
AMC Rivercenter 11 San Antonio, TX
AMC Pacific Place 11 Seattle, WA
AMC West Olive 16 St. Louis, MO
a/perture cinema Winston-Salem, NC

October 10 
AMC Loews Cherry Hill 24 Philadelphia, PA
AMC Magic Johnson Capital Center 12 Washington, DC
AMC Star Fairlane 21 Detroit, MI