I remember the first time I heard Nas’ classic debut “Illmatic” like it happened three seconds ago. In April of 1994, I was an annoying six-year-old who wasn’t allowed to listen to any rap music. To the chagrin of my older cousins, it was all R&B divas, all of the time.
One day, my 16-year-old cousin was at my house and my mom asked him to watch me for a little bit while she ran to the grocery store. We played endless games of “Sonic the Hedgehog” on my Sega until I got bored. I went and grabbed my red Sony Walkman and hit play and began to sing at the top of my lungs, “I WANNA BE DOWN WITH WHAT YOU’RE GOING THROUGH! I WANNA BE DOWN! I WANNA BE DOWN WITH YOU!” This was my jam at the time so he had grown tired of my off-key Brandy impersonation. He got so mad he threw the Sega cartridge he was in the midst of blowing into at my head and it left a scar in the middle of my forehead.
“Shut your little ass up! Tired of you singing that dumb ass song!” My cousin screamed.
After my tears threatened to snitch on him, he pacified me with one of his rap tapes that I wasn’t allowed to listen to. I hit play and became mesmerized by the flow of Nas’ words. I can’t say I fully grasped an understanding of the world he was describing, but it made me feel something emotionally. That’s exactly what happened when I saw the documentary “Time Is Illmatic.”
The documentary told the tale of the making of one of the most influential Hip-Hop classics ever created. Not only did the documentary tug on my heartstrings by bringing some long-forgotten memories back to the forefront of my mind, it taught me a few things I never knew about the Hip-Hop legend.
Check out five things I learned after seeing the documentary “Time Is Illmatic,” which was written by Erik G. Parker and directed by One9.