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Time Is Illmatic review

Nas state of mind

“This ain’t just about music,” we’re told in One9’s sharp, sure doc about Illmatic, the genre-raising 1994 album from New York rapper Nas. Tracing Nasir Jones back to the crack-scarred, gun-scared Queensbridge projects of his youth, One9 sets the nascent star’s rise to a backdrop of depravation and danger. Well-chosen talking heads include an on-point Q-Tip.

More of Nas wouldn’t hurt, but when we hear about the fates of his friends (some dead, many inside…), a wide-reaching tale locks into focus: one about hope through music, told with style, feeling and economic punch.

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Kevin Harley

Kevin Harley is a freelance journalist with bylines at Total Film, Radio Times, The List, and others, specializing in film and music coverage. He can most commonly be found writing movie reviews and previews at GamesRadar+.