Buried just beneath the elaborate lifestyles, beautiful women, exotic cars and big beats, is the essence of hip-hop: lyrics. Not often spotlighted, the intricacies and complexities of rhyming will be deconstructed on the silver screen when Ice T’s directorial debut, “Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap” hits theatres this summer.
Already gaining acclaim since debuting and being picked up at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the full-length documentary is Ice T’s personal journey to uncover how this art form grew to become one of the most popular musical genres in the world. “The Art of Rap” moves along with insight and personal stories from some of today’s biggest superstars (think Kanye West, Eminem, Common, Nas and Royce Da 5’9’’) as well as the pioneers of rap (Afrika Bambaataa, Chuck D, Doug E. Fresh, KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane and Rakim, among others). Interviews are interspersed with classic raps, freestyles and never before heard acapellas.
While some are criticizing the film for telling the “same old story”, I think it explores a side of hip-hop that, today, doesn’t get much attention. Lyrics, after all, are the root of the culture. They’re what gave you that feeling when you first heard “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five or (for you ’90s babies) “Dead Presidents II” by Jay-Z. How these rhymes came to be isn’t something to which many of us are privy. The creative process behind classic lines that are quoted over and over again deserves centre-stage status just as much as the people who deliver them. And who better to tell the story than wordsmiths themselves?
“The Art of Rap” hits U.S. theatres on June 8. There is not yet word on a Canadian release date.
Izabela Szydlo is the Associate Editor of Toronto-based Sway magazine as well as a section editor for Canada’s most read daily paper, Metro News. She has been writing about entertainment for more than 10 years and has interviewed, among others, Drake, Lady GaGa, Ne-Yo, Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas, J. Cole, Amber Rose, Monica, Keri Hilson, 88-Keys, Malice of Clipse and Boi-1da. You can follow her on Twitter @MsEditor416