There’s a scene in ‘Life is Illmatic’ – the new documentary chronicling the creation on Nas’ seminal hip hop album, ‘Illmatic,’ which premiered Wednesday night at the Tribeca Film Festival – in which Nas’ brother, Jabari, lists the fates of everyone in a group photo taken the day of Nas’ ‘Illmatic’ album cover shoot. The photo, 20 years old now, is of people from the Queensbridge Houses, the housing project that sits nestled under the Queensboro Bridge, right along the East River in New York City. The results aren’t pretty.
As Jabari goes down the line, almost everyone in the picture – mostly kids at the time – are either now dead or in prison. As Nas points out, without the music, that would have been them, too.