Review: Ice-T’s Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap

Many films have been made about hip hop culture, but none have really made an attempt to shine light on one of its most acclaimed and worldly impacting elements: rapping. Eminem’s 8 Mile is the only film mainstream audiences have that somewhat captures the nature of the lyrical art form. This coming June, veteran rapper Ice-T will introduce audiences to Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap, his first ever documentary film that makes huge strides to accomplish a well-rounded analysis and celebration of the hip hop lyricist.

The Art Of Rap immediately presents its intent within the first few minutes; it’s not about the women, money, clothes and cars often associated with rappers, but the real core: skills. Ice-T plays as both the interviewer and the traveler, collecting cherished memories and back stories from a large cast of rappers ranging from mainstream stars such as Eminem and Kanye West to old school legends such as Afrika Bambaataa and Rakim to lesser known but critically acclaimed lyricists Immortal Technique and Joe Budden. Accentuated with breathtaking aerial shots of various landmarks and skylines of New York City, Detroit and Los Angeles, The Art Of Rap sets itself apart from other documentaries with the sheer amount of production value.

Much of the content centers around the writing process of each interviewed emcee and how they have sharpened their skills over the years. Each interview has a great balance of humor and sincerity. For example, while discussing the seriousness of the craft, legendary emcee KRS-ONE (who was interviewed at the now shut-down Fat Beats Records, a testament to how much time was put into the making of this documentary) tells the hilarious story of how an emcee made him start rapping after dissing his jeans. The no-holds barred, slick talking braggadocio nature of emceeing is represented well through every aspect of the film.

While The Art Of Rap succeeds in its intent, some crucial ingredients that would have made this film a quintessential rap documentary were ignored. The film focused mainly on New York, Detroit (Eminem and Royce Da 5’9) and Los Angeles artists. The only Southern rap artist in the film is Texas’ Bun B, leaving the very powerful and culturally rich Southern rap scene without a large say in anything. The independent scene and its many advancements in the technique of rhyming were only represented by Immortal Technique.

As a celebration of hip hop lyricism, this visual contribution by Ice-T makes its mark in history and will hopefully give folks who don’t understand rap a better perspective of the craft while giving longtime hip hop fans a nostalgic treat.

We're looking for writers and editors to join the team. Interested? Apply today!