Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap

Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap is a documentary directed and presented by Ice-T about the art/craft of rap music.

Over the past year or so I’ve been warming to rap music which I absolutely hated as a teen. I never really thought about it being an art-form or a skill. It just sounded like a bunch of words being spewed out in a confrontational manner to me. This documentary really opened my eyes to the language of rap as an art form and how there’s more to it than money, MTV Cribs and fame. Someone says in the film how their grandmother just can’t comprehend rap at all and how it’s a language you really need to understand and I totally agree with them.

So Ice-T sets out on a journey to focus on the “art of rap” – not the game. There’s nothing here that glamourizes guns, bitches or money which is good because I think it makes the documentary accessible to people who haven’t got an appreciation for rap or are put off by those things. It focuses on the culture of Hip-Hop as well, about the skill it takes to be an MC. He interviews a range of various artists from the 70s up until now which is great as you see a lot of different styles, attitudes and opinions.

There’s some really great interviews, to name drop a few – Melle Mel, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Afrika Bambaataa, Ice Cube, Chuck D., Snoop Dogg, Mos Def and loads more. Another thing that makes this such a great watch is that it’s not just a bunch of talking head shots. These are Ice’s friends and acquaintances and he’s really just shooting-the-shit with them all. He’s a candid interviewer and it’s really relaxed and quite often Ice and/or his subject just break out and freestyle. Some may find this a fault of the documentary but it’s not “The History of Rap”. He’s just talking to a lot of influential people who created and changed the landscape of Hip Hop and at that he nails it. My only (really stretching to find one) criticism is that it’s a very American-centric film. There’s no International acts featured but again, it’s an American Phenomenon and it doesn’t proclaim to be offering an in-depth serious documentary on the subject.

A must own for fans of rap and a must see for anyone who can’t stand it.

In the extras department there’s: a Commentary by Ice-T and another with Prouder Paul Toogood; a 10 minute ‘Making Of’ with Ice-T and Paul Toogood; ‘Historical Perspective on Hip Hop’ with Dr. Gaye Theresa Johnson with a runtime of 5 minutes; Interviews with: Q-Tip, Kanye West, Ice Cube, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Freddie Foxx, Trigga Da Gambler, Smoothe Da Hustler, Too Short, Jim Jones, King Tee, CNN, Diabolic, Craig G, Busy Bee and Catastrophe and to round out the extras a trailer for the film. There’s a lot of great content here which makes the purchase even more worthwhile. The film runs for 106 minutes and the case states 266 which is obviously inclusive of the extras.

Available on R4 DVD from Beyond Home Entertainment.

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