Nas Docu Kicks Off Tribeca Film Festival

It may have been the most New York moment in years. Robert De Niro, onstage last night at the Beacon Theatre, introduced “Time Is Illmatic,” the new documentary on the 1994 landmark debut of Nas (pictured), “Illmatic,” to kick off the Tribeca Film Festival. (The fest kicked off on the Upper West Side: huh?) “Twenty years ago, I would’ve been 20 years too old for this music,” quipped the actor and festival co-founder to a boisterous crowd of fans, media and seemingly every important hip-hop figure in mid-Nineties New York. Unlike music docs that attempt to deify or elevate the obscure — “Anvil,” “The Devil and Daniel Johnston,” “Last Days Here” — “Time Is Illmatic” faces a more difficult task: convincing people to care about an album that has, for years, been enshrined in the musical canon and audibly tattooed on nearly every hip-hop fan’s brain since its release. It succeeds by both contextualizing the album (and its creator) among its past Reagan-era, crack-filled environs and revealing more about Nas’ early life than ever before.

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