Borderline Detroit Essay 18

willed fires to willed flowers

Katherine Craig

Image caption.

October and I am in Detroit walking down Brush Street to the Museum of African American History in a red polka dot dress with a notebook in my hand “I need a pen”.  I am attending a screening of “TIME IS ILLMATIC” (2014), the new documentary film pertaining to the life and times of hip hop recording artist  Nazir Jones (Nas), the prolific Queensbridge Houses lyricist who made major contributions to hip hop culture, especially with the release of "Illmatic", which featured the single "the world is yours" in 1994.  The film screening featured a panel discussion with the  filmmakers One9 and Erik Parker.  Piper Carter, who is a leader in Detroit hip hop and founded The Foundation of Women in Hip Hop and 5e Gallery, hosted the event.  Nas’s story, as told through the lens of One9, Erik Parker and Professor Martha Diaz, is a must-see for Detroit.

Nas overcomes all obstacles in “TIME IS ILLMATIC”.  One9 speaks of using a camera as a tool to tell the story of Nazir in a way that echoes the reality of Queensbridge Houses, a large public housing development.  Nas’s father recalls Nazir playing trumpet outside their home as a child.  Unsurprisingly, one may find parallels in Nas’s life to one’s own.  With an emphasis on his self-identity, viewers  may find a connection with Nas’s struggle and circumstances that encapsulates a voice and provides content to his music.  If enough people see “TIME IS ILLMATIC”, it could empower people to overcome the circumstances in life oppressing us all. The film and panel raised a lot of important issues including his massive amount of record sales despite the heavy bootlegging of Nas’s early career releases, as well as poverty and its effects on the people and friends around him.  Watching his friends die around him did not prevent Nas from realizing his dreams.  The footage in the film from 1994 represented a transcendence similar to that in transcendental philosophy and metaphysics, but also took care to show a connection with his origins. Not far from my memories, I can only dream of the past when looking through the glass.

Upon leaving the film screening, I was given a emerald green and chrome pen that reads, “Time Is Illmatic.” It's kind of ironic that's exactly what I needed.

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This text is by Katherine Craig in her capacity and does not, necessarily, reflect the views of different infinite mile contributors, infinite mile co-founders, the author's employer and/or other author affiliations.  

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link - issue 11: November 2014