Nas to launch tour built around ‘Illmatic’ documentary, performance

Nas performed on the outdoor stage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio this year.
(Bethany Mollenkof / Los Angeles Times)

Nas hasn’t finished celebrating the 20th anniversary of “Illmatic.”

The prolific rapper will cap off a year of feting his game-changing debut album with a fall North American tour that will pair a screening of the documentary based on the record, “Nas: Time Is Illmatic,” along with a performance of “Illmatic” in its entirety.

The 14-date trek (three of which will include only the performance) will begin Oct. 2 in Rochester, N.Y., on the heels of the film’s limited release. Nas will stop in Los Angeles on Oct. 18 with a screening and performance at the Orpheum Theatre.

At age 20, Nas issued “Illmatic,” an album that is widely considered one of the greatest rap records of all time. With its stark coming-of-age narrative on the pits of inner-city life in a drug-fueled, poverty-stricken housing project, “Illmatic” set a new benchmark for hip-hop.


Anchored by his lyrical dexterity, Nas’ knack for social commentary and deeply detailed narratives drove the album and cemented him as an artist who would continue to inspire new generations over the following two decades.

Earlier this year he began celebrating the album’s landmark anniversary.  

Nas built a spring tour around a front-to-back performance of the album that included performances at the Kennedy Center as well as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, where he brought out Jay Z and Sean “Diddy” Combs as surprise guests.

He issued “Illmatic XX,” a special 20th anniversary edition of the album that boasted remastered versions of the album’s original tracks and a disc of rare remixes, unreleased demos and freestyles.


The documentary -- which looked at the influence of the album, traced its making and explored how growing up in the drug-fueled, poverty-stricken Queensbridge projects in New York fueled Nas and the influence of his father, celebrated jazz musician Olu Dara – opened this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

“Time Is Illmatic,” from first-time filmmakers One9 (director-producer) and Erik Parker (writer-producer), will first open in New York and Los Angeles via Tribeca Film on Oct. 1 before being expanded to additional cities. It will be available on demand and iTunes starting Oct. 3.

Tickets for Nas’ L.A. event will go on sale Friday through Ticketmaster.

More information, including tour dates, can be found on his website.      

Twitter: @GerrickKennedy