Ice T’s Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap – Film Review

If you don’t mind listening to swear words, slang and violent talk, and watching baseball-capped, jeans-sagging, skull-wearing former gangstas for a couple of hours, this film is for you. If you don’t, this film is still probably for you. Nas, regarded as one of greatest rappers alive, remarks in the film: “I’m a grown man now, I have no business wearing saggy jeans, but I might let it sag a little bit just to annoy you few stiff motherf******.” Hyperbole aside, The Art of Rap, a film directed by Ice T, is all about intelligence.

Axiomatically, the film title, The Art of Rap, tells us that there is a skill, and according to Ice T, a “craft” involved with rapping. We tend to forget the deep thought that goes into many rap songs. The film, says Ice T, is not about the “money, cars, jewellery or girls…but what it takes to write a rap and what goes on inside the heads of the masters.”

For those familiar with the greatest rap lyricists of our time: Rakim, Tupac and Nas (to name a few) they will be familiar with the most profound meanings embedded into their songs. This is why hip-hop lyricism has gained a measure of respect within academic and literary circles. English academic, John Sutherland use to teach a course in rap at the California Institute of Technology called “Offensive Literature”. It was “wildly popular with the geekiest geeks in the country”, he says. Sutherland, who looks the antithesis of a rap listener (he’s an old, white guy) believes Tupac will be regarded as “one of the great American poets in 20 years time”. Sutherland has one final thing to say: “West Coast!”

The documentary film follows one of hip-hop’s pioneers, Ice T, on his peripatetic journey throughout the boroughs of New York, the Mid-West and Los Angeles. He interviews 50 rappers – from the old school he talks to the likes of: Melle Mel and Afrika Bambatta, the next generation: Doug E. Fresh (“I invented beatboxing”, he says), KRS-One and Run DMC and the next wave: Common, Eminem and Kanye West, among others.

The Art of Rap explicitly focuses on how an MC – a word pioneered by rapper Melle Mel – goes about creating an idea and expressing it lyrically. Rakim, for example, puts 16 dots on a page and fits his rhyme within the structure; Immortal Technique makes himself physically hungry, because hip-hop is about “fighting with your mind”; Snoop Dogg needs “lots of weed, old-school music and some females”; Eminem who conceded that rap “saved his life” from his drug addictions, explains how he uses internal rhymes (rhymes occurring in a single verse); while Grandmaster Caz, who started rhyming aged 13, says he needs complete silence to write his best lyrics. Producer Dr Dre even describes how Tupac would go into the recording booth, enter into his own zone, start writing lyrics and then record track after track.

While Dr Dre talks about Tupac from his pad up in the hills, there is, strangely, no mention of The Notorious B.I.G. throughout the film, nor do we see Jay Z – two omissions which make the film slightly lacking.  Although, in Ice T’s defence, tracking down every great MC is a near-impossible task.

KRS-One, meanwhile, elucidates how he became a rapper: one day, he was standing in a crowd watching a rap battle, then, all of a sudden, he is randomly selected and ridiculed by one of the rap battlers because of the clothes he was wearing. Feeling humiliated, KRS-One jumps in and starts rapping to defend himself. This, he says, was the start of his career.

“I don’t think people really understand the culture or where it [rap] came from. We called the film Something from Nothing…because it’s the stories of kids who took themselves from nothing to something,” Ice T says on the The Wendy Williams show.

There is also a distinction between the rapper who sits at home writing his or her lyrics and the performer who comes on stage. The latter, often with his or her chest puffed out and displaying obscene levels of bravado, is not necessarily the same person as the one behind the scenes. This is best illustrated in the film by Kanye West’s extremely relaxed demeanour as he talks to Ice T, who elicits honest answers from his interviewees with his easy-going interview style. “On stage they perform but behind the scenes they are exquisitely well-mannered,” Sutherland said at a debate called Hip Hop on Trial at The Barbican, London, last month. Brooklyn born rapper, Talib Kweli says: “Jay-Z the rapper is different to Shawn Carter. The same way as Arnold Schwarzenegger is different to the Terminator.”

This film has a little for everyone. It’s a nice introduction for rap newbies to understand the art; it’s an interesting dissemination of rap for the more hard-core fans; and, for Illuminati conspiracists, there are quite a few shots of pyramids and one-eyed pyramids.

Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap is out in UK cinemas now

Advertisements

43 Comments

Add yours →

  1. I think the admin of this website is actually working hard in favor of his website,
    as here every stuff is quality based data.

  2. fantastic points altogether, you simply gained a brand
    new reader. What could you suggest in regards to your post that you made a few days ago?
    Any positive?

  3. see here for the best synchronazation and communication systems anywhere

  4. jeiOdH Very informative article.Much thanks again.

  5. I read a lot of interesting posts here. Probably you spend a
    lot of time writing, i know how to save you a lot of work, there is an online tool that creates high quality, SEO friendly articles
    in minutes, just type in google – laranitas free content source

  6. Nice post. I was checking constantly this weblog and I am impressed!
    Very useful info specially the last phase 🙂 I maintain such info much.
    I used to be seeking this particular information for a long time.
    Thanks and best of luck.

  7. When someone writes an paragraph he/she keeps the image of a user in his/her brain that
    how a user can understand it. Thus that’s why this
    piece of writing is great. Thanks!

  8. What you posted made a ton of sense. However, what about this?
    what if you were to create a killer title? I mean, I don’t want to tell you how to run your blog,
    but suppose you added a post title that makes people desire more?
    I mean Ice Ts Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap – Film Review – Omar
    Shahid is a little vanilla. You should glance at Yahoo’s
    front page and watch how they write post titles to grab people to open the links.
    You might add a related video or a picture or two to get people excited
    about what you’ve got to say. Just my opinion, it could bring your website a
    little livelier.

  9. Hello people if you can’t earn any money online try – bluehand roulette system – it
    earns me extra money everyday, just google it

  10. Thanks for finally writing about >Ice Ts Something from
    Nothing: The Art of Rap – Film Review – Omar Shahid
    <Loved it!

  11. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates.
    I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this.

    Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog
    and I look forward to your new updates.

  12. Hola! I’ve been following your blog for a while now and
    finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Lubbock Texas!
    Just wanted to mention keep up the great job!

  13. I’m not sure why but this site is loading very slow for me.
    Is anyone else having this issue or is it a problem on my end?
    I’ll check back later and see if the problem still exists.

  14. I’ve been hunting about for the greatest internet site to obtain one particular.:)

  15. I identified the diary and read some of the
    Yahoo messages. prestigious job! I just added to my
    Google News Reader.

  16. It was interesting. It seems to me, I learned discipline.

  17. :O So mush information: O … This is the most spectacular web site Dude… 😀

  18. Generally does not happen, but the blog diary forced to, an impressive exercise .

    .. Beautiful …

  19. Please, can you tell me handful of a lot more considers
    around this, I am actually lover of one’s blog…

  20. Hi there, I encountered your internet log by way of Google whilst looking for initial aid as well as your post appears really diverting for me.

  21. I loved the report. Will hyperlink back for your own web-site.
    Please post a lot more usually if you have the time.

    Provides Thanks!

  22. Do you know a lot more info on this?

  23. I’ve attended around the top web-sites to get one particular.:)

  24. Nice post. I like it a lot… but why is it so short?

  25. Hello, I seriously occupying a record. Continue up.

  26. Your net log looks prestigious. Have a excellent day.

  27. I don’t annotate on lots of blogs but just after studying several of the
    posts I believed I’d just say Thanks and Proceed up the very good physical exercise.

  28. Hey extremely Fine web log!! Man .. Pleasant .
    . astounding .. I’ll bookmark your net log and take the feeds also…

  29. Howdy webmaster I like your spot ….

  30. You are an extremely brilliant person! 🙂

  31. Do you workout within this sector? You look to
    acknowledge a lot concerning the study.

  32. Preserve working ,important job!

  33. This is also fine,

  34. Provides Thanks !! incredibly beneficial location!

  35. I Proceed hearing for the news speak just about obtaining free of charge on-line
    grant applications so I’ve been seeking around for the optimal web site to acquire one.

  36. Quite Fine acquire. Offers Thanks for this.

  37. I go to see day-to-day some blogs and blogs to read posts, except this blog provides feature based posts.

  38. you are in point of fact a just right webmaster. The website loading
    velocity is incredible. It sort of feels that you’re doing any distinctive trick. In addition, The contents are masterpiece. you have performed a excellent task in this subject!

  39. It’s nearly impossible to find knowledgeable people about this topic, however, you sound like you know what you’re
    talking about! Thanks

  40. Hi, Neat post. There’s a problem along with your website in web explorer, may test this? IE still is the marketplace chief and a huge component to folks will pass over your excellent writing because of this problem.

  41. What’s up, after reading this remarkable post i am also happy to share my experience here with colleagues.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: