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Illmatic - Page 2

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Nas, “Hey Young World” (Originally Published November 2011)

This Saturday, Nas’ magnum opus Illmatic turns 20. The Queensbridge native’s journey into becoming a legendary MC all started with a groundbreaking debut that captured his worldview of the projects through a sharpened lens...

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beacon theater nas marquee time is illmatic
The premiere of Nas' brand new Time Is Illmatic documentary celebrating the 20th anniversary of Mr. Jones' classic debut LP Illmatic was last night at Manhattan's Beacon Theater, and the turnout proved to be star-studded. With legends such as Eric B., Marley Marl, Kool Herc, Large Professor and Pete Rock in the house, among a whole host of others, filmmakers Erik Parker and One9—who had been at work on the documentary for a decade—presented their feature-length entry into the canon of Nas' career. The film itself was exhaustive, diving not necessarily into the making of the album from a musical standpoint, but more from a cultural, societal and quasi-political one, following Nas and his brother Jungle through the Queensbridge projects that they called home and recreating the environment that produced such a masterpiece nearly 20 years ago.

Nas, of course, followed up on the premiere with a performance of Illmatic in its entirety, accompanied by DJ Green Lantern and opening with a little assist from Alicia Keys playing "NY State Of Mind" on the piano. XXL was there to see it all happen, and these are the six biggest takeaways from last night's premiere. Represent. Dan Rys
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6 Big Takeaways From Nas’ ‘Time Is Illmatic’ Documentary Premiere

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Nas, “Let It Go” (Originally Published January/February 2007)

This Saturday, Nas’ magnum opus Illmatic turns 20. The Queensbridge native’s journey into becoming a legendary MC all started with a groundbreaking debut that captured his worldview of the projects through a sharpened lens...

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Nas, “Fire” (Originally Published September 2003)

This Saturday, Nas’ magnum opus Illmatic turns 20. The Queensbridge native’s journey into becoming a legendary MC all started with a groundbreaking debut that captured his worldview of the projects through a sharpened lens...

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time is illmatic nas cover documentary
XXL: What is Illmatic's legacy?
One9: I think Illmatic's legacy will be, generations from now, people will always consider that album one of the, if not the, best hip-hop albums ever made. I think it will inspire generations. I think now you can listen to what J Cole and Kendrick Lamar say about Illmatic and how it affected them. I think it will have a long-lasting effect in the lineage of classic albums; I'll take it back to Marvin Gaye's What's Going On? to Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue to John Coltrane's A Love Supreme. It's something that spoke on many different levels and transcends space and time in many different generations.

EP: I think Illmatic is an album that gave a voice to the voiceless for a generation. It articulated the angst, the worldview, and everything that this generation was going through that a lot of people overlooked through the eyes of this young boy, Nas, who happened to be a poet. It was told through Nas' eyes, but it was about a generation of boys and men and people who were coming of age in America. And I think that's the legacy; there's compassion, there's people that are living in America that want to be heard, and there are people out there who are trying to make a way in the world, and this tells their story.

The film gives you a guide to making the album, not just musically, but also a social and political context of what was going on while he was making that album. So you'll understand why "One Love" was so important to him, because he's talking about all his friends who might not make it, but he did. There are many things we want people to take away from this film, but the one thing for sure that we want people to take away is that Illmatic was much bigger than just Nas and the great poet that he is; he was telling the story of a people, and everyone who wasn't as good at articulating that story, he did that for them. We wanted to honor the people that he's also rapping for and about on that album with this film.
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Twitter Reacts To Nas’ ‘Time Is Illmatic’ Documentary Premiere

Nas has been on a hell of a press run celebrating the 20th anniversary of his classic debut LP Illmatic—which hits the two decade mark Saturday, April 19—and tonight he performed at the Tribeca Film Festival after the premiere of the new documentary Time Is Illmatic...

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nas time is illmatic queens
Tonight, the premiere of Time Is Illmatic, the documentary by producer/writer Erik Parker and director One9 which explores the making of Nas' classic debut LP, will take place at the TriBeCa Film Festival. The documentary, which comes the week of the album's 20th anniversary and the day after the re-release of Nas' IllmaticXX, has been a decade in the making, with work beginning in 2004 around the 10th anniversary of the album. As time went on, One9 and Parker were able to, piece by piece and step by step, speak to as many people involved in the making of the album—as well as Nas' early life—to paint a full picture of what, exactly, went into crafting this album.

"The film gives you a guide to making the album, not just musically, but also a social and political context of what was going on while he was making that album," Parker says. "There are many things we want people to take away from this film, but the one thing for sure that we want people to take away is that Illmatic was much bigger than just Nas and the great poet that he is; he was telling the story of a people, and everyone who wasn't as good at articulating that story, he did that for them."

With the doc premiering tonight, XXL spoke with both One9 and Parker about the decade-long process of putting together the film, Nas' reaction to the production, and what the legacy of Illmatic really is. Dan Rys

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Nas’ ‘Time Is Illmatic’ Documentary Has Been In The Works For 10 Years

nas illmatic 20 years memory lane

“Memory Lane (Sittin’ In Da Park)”

Producer: DJ Premier
Lyric: “I reminisce on park jams, my man was shot for his sheep coat/Childhood lesson make me see him drop in my weed smoke/It’s real, grew up in trife life, the times of white lines/The hype pipes, murderous nighttimes and knife fights invite crimes”
Why It’s Dope: We can see here how hard lessons learned at too young of an age shaped Nas’ worldview. Every time he gets high, he remembers the night he lost one of his friends to the violence that overtook major American cities in the 1980s.

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The Making Of Nas’ ‘Illmatic’ — XXL Issue 112

Still Ill
In spring 1994, a chip-tooth kid outta Queensbridge released a 10-song debut album that set a new standard for hip-hop lyricism...

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“The World Is Yours”

Producer: Pete Rock
Lyric: “While all the old folks pray to Jesus, soakin’ their sins in trays/Of holy water, odds against Nas are slaughter/Thinkin' a word best describing my life/To name my daughter my strength/My son the star will be my resurrection/Born in correction, all the wrong shit I did, he’ll lead a right direction”
Why It’s Dope: These lines endorse a vision of the world in which Nas plays the roles of both God and sinner, only capable of being saved by the goodness of his children. This line used to sound like wishful thinking on the part of Nas and his guilty conscience, but as you get older, the concept of becoming a better person through your children, or them being your resurrection, begins to resonate.

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Nas’ 20 Best Lines On ‘Illmatic’

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nas illmatic 20 years represent

“Represent”

Producer: DJ Premier
Lyric: “The brutalizer, crew de-sizer, accelerator/The type of nigga who be pissin' in your elevator/Somehow the rap game reminds me of the crack game/Used to sport Bally's and Gazelle's with black frames/Now I'm into fat chains, sex and tecs/Fly new chicks and new kicks, Heine's and Beck's”
Why It’s Dope: It's a perfect reference to the type of degenerate who pisses in elevators; everybody knows who that type of person is, and a simple line encapsulates the entire idea. Then there's the rap game/crack game comparison, which is one of the most commonly-used tropes in the genre.

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Made You Look: The 20 Most Stylish Looks From Nas

nas represent suit

“Represent”

Producer: DJ Premier
Lyric: “Nas is a rebel of the street corner/Pulling a Tec out the dresser/Police got me under pressure”
Why It’s Dope: Nas is explaining the overwhelming sense of fear and paranoia when you’re in the drug game and how that fear can drive you to arming yourself with semi-automatic weapons. He’s proud of his status as a rebel but is also condemning the gangsta lifestyle as not being worth it.

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Nas Did Not Put Together The Tracklist For ‘Illmatic’

For the upcoming 20th anniversary of Nas’ classic album Illmatic, God's Son sat down with Spotify for their Landmark series and discussed stories from the making of the album...

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