nas illmatic 20 anniversary reissue

There's the story of "Memory Lane" where you and Premier were arguing over the beat.
He had a different way he wanted to go, which was a darker sound, and I didn't want to do that. I had a different idea for the song, and it wasn't bright enough, it wasn't colorful enough, it wasn't me. So we had to get it to sound like me. I didn't want it to be anyone else's expression but my own, so that's what we did. And he worked on it again until he got it to where we felt like it sounded like me.

What was the lyrical idea behind that song? Faith mentioned that she was blown away that an 18-year-old kid was writing a song called "Memory Lane" and it worked.
Well, I had to be the man of my crib, the man of the house, since I was about 9 years old; my pop told me he was leaving me the man of the house. So I lived in a neighborhood where each block had way too many people, but I loved it. But it was a lot to deal with. So growing up, I'd seen a lot. It was just a lot to put in that song. At 21 years old I felt like I needed to retire, and I'd just put out an album. At 21 years old I felt like a Vietnam veteran. It wasn't because of anything too crazy. No, I won't say that. I just felt like a Vietnam veteran, and the people around me did, also. People had grey hair around me. We were livin' fast. And not even much physically—I'm not saying I was fuckin' John J Rambo [Laughs]—it was a mental thing that took over everyone in the neighborhood. I needed rest. So "Memory Lane" was like one chapter. I mention it also on "Life's A Bitch"—"I'm one quarter through life," or something like that.

And during "Memory Lane," I asked Premier to scratch up Craig G's "Comin' Out Of Queensbridge." Any record where a rapper from Queensbridge shouted out Queensbridge, I was hoping to use that, 'cause I needed to use as much as I could to validate that there was some history to my hood, some musical history that made us official, before I even came about. It was important that I had Premier scratch out "Comin' out of Queensbridge." That was really important.

You knew L.E.S. beforehand, right?
Yeah, yeah, most definitely. He was a DJ in the neighborhood, and I heard that he was makin' beats, and he was makin' beats for a few people at the time. And at some point we got cool—I was always open doors to everybody, whether you rapped, or whether you made beats, I was always open doors, you can come see me at any time. So L got to talkin' to me at one point or another and said he had some music, so I thought it would be definitely cool to give him a shot, and put somebody from Queensbridge on the album. At first I thought that the crew of Pete Rock and Tip and Premier, I thought it would be kind of an insult to have someone with no name on the album, I thought they'd be insulted. But they were so cool about it, so I was really happy for L.E.S. at the time.

Did you have that hook in mind already?
No, that was all AZ. AZ came up; it's funny. I was a new artist, but I wanted to debut a new artist. It was my way of saying, hip-hop needs the door kicked down and an influx of new artists, that was my thing, and he was perfect for it. So he came and he spit a few things for me, and there was one rhyme that he had which was more calm, and it fit in with what I was doing, and I told him to use that rhyme; he had gone through a bunch of them. And there was the chorus he was playing around with, and I was like, "What?" And as soon as he jumps on the album, he's this light, like a beam of light from God that just shines on this album and everything.

It's funny, because he says that he didn't like that verse at the time, but it's one of the most classic verses on the album.
Oh man, he was a beam of light on that album.


Nas Illmatic Era

Nas' Documentary Time Is Illmatic will soon be readily available. Tribeca Film announced today (May 13) that its North American branch had acquired film and expect its theatrical and VOD release to come this October. The release will also include special performances from Nas in select cities.

The documentary written by Erik Parker and directed by One9 premiered the opening night of the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, outlining what went in to creating Nas' classic debut album Illmatic.

Receiving support from The Ford Foundation’s Just Films and Tribeca Film Institute’s Tribeca All Access program, Parker and One9 also  produced the film with Anthony Saleh.

Nas is grateful for for how this love letter to the streets of NYC has been received. In a statement from Tribeca Film he said,"I want to thank Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and the Tribeca Film family for all of the love & support they've given Time Is Illmatic. It is an honor to be in partnership with them. I feel there is a cultural kinship bonded by the city of New York."

Tribeca Enterprises CEO and co-founder is also proud of the documentary's success as well as it's creators.

"We began this journey with filmmakers One9 and Erik Parker when they conceived of the idea for the film in 2010 and supported them with funding through the Tribeca Film Institute to complete their vision," said Jane Rosenthal. "We were privileged to open the 2014 Festival with the world premiere of this powerful story of an artist's journey through the toughest of conditions and times."

One9 said he is confident in the partnership with Tribeca Film and  believes it is the proper platform for this "American experience."