"This brisk, stylish and extremely heartfelt portrait of Nas’ rise from the housing projects of Queensbridge to the heights of hip-hop royalty ably stands on its own, marked by an admirable focus on the man and his music rather than hype and hagiography."
- Scott Foundas, Variety
"Superstar MC Nas remembers his humble roots in One9's Time Is Illmatic, an evocative appreciation of his debut album on the occasion of its 20th anniversary. The doc offers a strong sense of the neighborhood -- New York City's Queensbridge Houses, the largest public-housing project in the U.S. -- that served as both a rallying cry for musicians who grew up there and a constant threat to their lives."
- John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter
TIME IS ILLMATIC is a look back on the now-cherished and seminal hip-hop record, but also focuses deeply on of the environment that created it. Traveling back way back in the day, ‘Illmatic’ leaves no bits of history unchecked, looking at Nas’ adolescence (more centered than most), parents (including his influential jazz/blues musician father, Olu Dara), the way he was raised (a strong single mother), his milieu (the rough projects of Queensbridge, Queens, as the New York crack epidemic was about to explode), and the friends and formidable experiences that produced this talented young artist."
- Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist, IndieWire
"Excellent and engrossing… Like the album, the movie is a time capsule to a very specific place and time: Nas' notorious Queensbridge projects in the '80s and early '90s pre-Giuliani "bad old days," where a vibrant new sound, hip-hop, was somehow blossoming amid rampant crime, desperate inner-city poverty, and the new crack epidemic. The movie dives in deep, thoroughly explaining how that world birthed Nas and his music. But in the process, it touches on subjects way bigger than them: racial segregation, educational inequality, public housing, and the prison system."
- Alex Gale, Billboard