Nas captured the attention of the Hip-Hop nation with his 1994 debut album, Illmatic. The album continues to inspire creativity, as evidenced by an upcoming Hip-Hop theater piece that draws on the potent lyrics from the classic release.
HOMAGE 3: ILLMATIC, from playwright Shaun Neblett, also known as SNEB 1, borrows heavily from the themes present on Illmatic and crafts an original narrative. Debuting Off-Broadway in 2011 the play centers on the life main character Ron, a gym teacher who moonlights as a photographer. Like most creatives, Ron faces challenges balancing his dreams with the day-to-day realities of life.
The play’s showing and its hopeful success is important to note, given the recent Broadway closing of the Tupac Shakur-inspired play, Holla If Ya Hear Me. Neblett and the collective feels that the emergence of Hip-Hop and theater is soon to develop to higher heights.
In Neblett’s own words, he explains his motivations behind creating the play:
Artists pay tribute to art we admire all the time. Basquiat’s painting “Pàter” is a homage to Pablo Picasso’s “Homme assis, Michael Jackson’s dancing was a homage to James Brown and Jackie Wilson’s styles of dancing. I chose to pay homage to Illmatic because I understand NaS is a black artist and when I listened to Illmatic over and over again I heard all of these themes about perseverance and representing who you are- it just became a very natural desire to honor Illmatic and write an original play in the spirit of NaS’ album.
The play one have a one-time showing at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, sharing credit with Changing Perceptions Theater and The Creative Collective in putting on the event. The play will show Saturday November 22 and will feature Chinaza Uche, Harvey Gardner Moore, Tocarra Cash, Shawn Randall, Khadim Diop and Stephen Hill.
For more information, visit www.h3illmatic.com. Tickets can be purchased via the link as well.
Photo: HOMAGE 3: ILLMATIC