Ice T premiered his anticipated documentary “Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap” at Lincoln Center, in New York City on Wednesday night, hosting guests like Fabolous, Busta Rhymes, DJ Khaled and MTV New correspondent, Sway Calloway. Ice introduced the film by giving some background on his vision, explaining the importance of the ‘craft’ of hip-hop and telling the crowd, “Sorry if I’m talking too much, this is like the most exciting night of my life.” Ice continued celebrating his directorial debut with an afterparty at Highline Ballroom, with performances from Rakim, Chuck D. More about the film after the jump.
“Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap” directed by Ice-T is an informative concoction of impromptu freestyles and intimate stories told by some of the most influential and skilled MCs in rap music. “If your favorite rapper isn’t in it, your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper is,” Ice T explained, when he first screened his directorial debut in front of a packed Lower East Side theater in Manhattan at the end of May. The purpose of the almost two-hour documentary is not only to give viewers a thorough understanding of the art of rap, but also to address some of the problems that continue to contaminate the culture.
Ice-T, who simultaneously narrates the documentary while interviewing some of the masters of the art form, asked the begging question: Why isn’t rap respected like other genres of music? Queensbridge rapper Nas candidly weighed in, because rap is a “threat.”
The film also breaks down aspects of hip-hop that some fans overlook–but shouldn’t, including the differences between a rapper and an MC, the importance of originality, and the value of lyrics in a rap song. As an example, Ice-T mentioned that he was once offended when his wife admitted to being guilty of not always listening to the words in a rap song. He communicated that listeners don’t realize this is the ultimate insult to a lyricist, to be revered for their beat and not their lyrics. “As hard as I work on these words you telling me you don’t listen to the words?” Ice T exclaimed.
Viewers will get a reminder of the flaws that rap suffers from today, which includes a lack of respect for others, and the absence of what Afrika Bambaataa describes in the film as the 5th element to hip-hop, “knowledge.” The bars spit by KRS-One, Yasiin Bey, Rakim, Nas, Joe Budden, Eminem and many others in the film are indications that substance used to be key, and should remain that way. “My thing is about substance and presentation,” Q-Tip said during his interview with Ice-T. “Lately I haven’t seen much of this in the new generation, it does exist but it’s not celebrated as much as the garbage that makes it onto the radio today.”
The real treats of the film are the freestyles by some MCs we don’t usually see in such a raw light like Detroit native Eminem who gives the formula to how he writes his rhymes. Kanye West shares an embarrassing story of how he lost his first rap battle and the likes of MC Lyte, Redman, Snoop Dogg, Chuck D, Bun B, Ice Cube and many others collectively school us on the art of rap.
It’s safe to laud Ice-T’s debut film, because it easily helps viewers to fall in love with the genre again. For aspiring rappers it will surely be worth more than your average movie ticket. Seeing living legends like Rakim break down the science behind his craft is priceless.
“You can’t just step into an art form,” Ice told the crowd during the initial screening. “You can’t come into playing basketball and have no respect for Michael Jordan and Dr. J, that’s part of the game, everyone starts out as a fan, no one is born a rapper, everyone starts as a fan….so to come into the game like you’re not a fan, that’s fake.”
The film hits theaters on June 15.