Rapper Nas helped to launch the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival in his native New York on Wednesday (16Apr14) by performing with Alicia Keys after the world premiere of his new documentary Time Is Illmatic. The project, directed by One9, chronicles the I Can hitmaker’s rise to fame with his 1994 debut Illmatic, which has since gone down in hip-hop history as a classic.
The film was selected to open Robert De Niro’s annual film event and Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal explains, “The nature of the subject is about surviving and thriving. That’s what New York did post-9/11 (when they first launched the Tribeca Film Festival). And that’s what Nas has done in his career. It’s about bridging cultures and bridging communities – that’s what his work is about.” The premiere at Manhattan’s Beacon Theatre, which was also attended by De Niro, The Wire star Michael K. Williams and rapper Wale, was a double celebration for Nas, as it took place almost exactly 20 years after Illmatic’s original release.
Nas admits opening up to documentary cameras was “hard” for him to do, but he tells Entertainment Weekly, “I’m happy I did. I’m forever grateful.” The rapper followed up the screening by hitting the stage to perform tracks from Illmatic, with Keys joining him on piano. He also introduced his brother, Jabari aka Jungle, to the stage for one song, along with his two nephews. The Tribeca Film Festival runs until 27 April (14).