Time is Illmatic

Brisk and stylish hip-hop biopic

A perk of reviewing films is watching music documentaries about performers and genres you don’t, um, commonly follow. This one is about one of hip-hop’s most intellectual artists, Nasir “Nas” Jones, celebrating his influential debut album 20 years back.

Man’s a poet. Using archival footage (helpfully subtitled) and talking heads, the film links what was happening in the recording studio with the politics and policy at the time of being black in America. It’s brisk and stylish, and avoids hagiography. Fans will love it, and neophytes can learn something. I did. Still don’t like hip-hop.

Japanese title: Nas: Time is Illmatic. (73 min)