11/24/2014 06:00 pm ET Updated Jan 24, 2015

Film Review: Time Is IllMatic Directed by One9

Let me start by being completely honest. I won't call myself a true Nas fan. I definitely listened to a few of his songs when they came on the radio, and danced to some, when they were spun in the club. But that's probably it. Now, I can certainly recognize and acknowledge his accomplishments. After all, with over 10 Grammy nominations, and several multi-platinum albums, he definitely is one of the undisputed champions by way of knockout. But no, I can't recite every lyric and I never owned an album. So when I saw the documentary, Time is Illmatic, it took me back to a exciting, familiar period, while giving insight to a story of which I was not so acquainted.

Revealed was a layer of understanding for why Nas is loved and respected so much. The creativity, awareness and intelligence that flowed out of him, at such a young age, while growing up in his environment with limited resources, is definitely nothing short of genius. If one's surroundings clearly make an impact on who they become, he is one of the enlightened ones who have been able to channel influence and opportunity. Especially, given that the documentary draws a clear picture of where the rest of his crew was headed and how they turned out. After walking in his footsteps and peering into his past, it still seems remarkable that he ended up where he did.

Nas spit the poetic stories of the images around him with precise detail, fearlessness, and an uninhibited wise old soul. And remarkably, he never finished the eighth grade. How cerebral. How observant. How deep. How plugged in. How detail oriented. Somehow, I doubt his brain in a cipher, starts to fire off like anyone else's.

(Spoiler alert) And against the odds of losing a friend and a family member, he was able to stay in the zone to create Illmatic; his first album, that ranked #1 on the Billboard charts. The unrated documentary goes into detail about his mother, his brother and his best friend all having tragic outcomes that happened right before his eyes. Still he was able to tune out the blockers and not only believe that his goals would come into fruition, but he was also able stay focused enough to make them happen.

It's no wonder that Time is Illmatic has been steadily making the short list for Oscar consideration. Coupled with the hip hop legend's story, the cinematography and artistry from the director, One9, is also artistically unique. His ability to take an interesting rapper's biography and raise the bar to make it even that much more alluring, is a talent within itself. One9's background is that of a talented fine artist, who's abstract paintings can be found in the possession of many famous recording artists. Watching a film created by the viewpoint of a fine artist, turned equally talented movie director, is a unique twist on film production and an art form within itself.

I'd recommend this film for its sheer inspiration. It's an uplifting and powerful reminder that people make big things happen despite their odds. It's an example of how putting in the work and being prepared pays off. Of course, having talent never hurts either. Time is Illmatic has a style that's note worthy, unique and worth checking out. Watch it with a Nas fan, or someone you want to put on. "Nas'll rock well, it ain't hard to tell"

For what to see (and read) for the family, visit and