When Erik Parker was an editor at VIBE working on a piece about the tenth anniversary of Nas’s seminal rap album Illmatic, he knew his print project wasn’t doing the music justice. The MC’s vignettes about day-to-day life in the Queensbridge projects aren’t your typical paeans to New York City. The songs on Illmatic are so closely tied with specific characters and traumatic memories from Nasir Jones’s frenzied adolescence that a true celebration of their greatness required sharing old footage and audio with a new generation of hip-hop heads. So Parker teamed up with graffiti artist One9, and the two spent the next decade crafting Time is Illmatic. The end result premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 19 and is finally set for a nationwide release on Thursday.
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