Rap wasn't always like Lil Jon's yelling his famous "What!?" and "Okay!", or repeating your name over and over throughout the song like Houston's own Lil Flip.
Nowadays most see rap as lyrics telling a woman how to position herself or look for a man, rhymes about money and talk of toking up. But the art of rap had to derive from somewhere. There must be a method to the madness.
Co-directed by Ice-T, Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap, is a feature-length documentary about the runaway sound known as rap music, and an official selection of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The film will be released in theaters on June 15, including a 12:01 a.m. screening next Friday at the AMC Gulf Pointe 30 (11801 E. S. Sam Houston Pkwy.).
Ice-T, co-director of the film, takes the audience through a personal journey of the music that once only thrived in the New York streets but now blasts through radios worldwide. Ice took it upon himself to be the personal interviewer for each artist he speaks to.
"I was looking at the terrain of hip-hop and where it's going," he told Billboard. "A lot of the kids don't even know where it started, and I said, 'I wanna go and document the craft, not the money, not the cars, not the girls, the craft.'"
The cast of 45 rap stars ranges across many decades and styles, and each has their own history to add to the documentary. This leads to some unique performances, including some Texan rappers. Houston native DJ Premier, who isn't a newbie to the music-doc scene after completing his track "Regeneration" for the recent Re:Generation mash-up film.
I would in some ways relate this documentary film to How to Rap: The Art and Science of the Hip-Hop MC, a book by Paul Edwards with a foreword by the one and only Kool G Rap. Edwards conducted several interviews for his book, but nothing to the extent of this documentary. But hey, the book could be a great companion to the film if you are interesting in truly mastering the art of rap, or at least comprehending it.
Something From Nothing allows you to see the physical emotions that explode from the rappers you know and love today. These artists spill out their inspirations as to what makes them write the lyrics that they do, and how they paint a picture for the audience using only their words. However, the world hasn't really been exposed to why this is done, at least not from this many different rappers within 113 minutes.
The journey of the streets is taken to a whole new spectrum, as T meets with some founders of the art as we know it today in hip-hop talents and global sensations such as Snoop Dogg, Eminem and Kayne West. The history of rap is exposed from both the past and what it has lead up to now.
The uppercase Art of rap is slowly revealed to the public throughout the film. Rap did not start out as a pop-culture movement, but yet we hear it every day. Some may not understand the truth behind an artist's lyrics, but they listen. Why?
I find myself listening to songs on repeat just to better understand what one is trying to portray. Each artist has their own way of crafting the music they put out to the world, but what is that craft?
Coming from someone who writes poetry -- yes I write poetry -- I see rap as spoken-word. It tells a story and gives a voice to others. It may be extreme, physical or spiritual, but a craft is created within rhymes that can be expressed through emotions of one's experiences. Everyone has their own individual style that portrays them as the public sees them, and each individual has their own creative flow they express to the people
Rap isn't just words spilling out over a record. It's a masterpiece in progress that has yet to be fully unveiled.
Grandmaster Flash once said, "Do not let any record company disturb your creative flow. You are not writing for the record company. You're writing for the public."
This of course can be applied to any genre of music, but in general he was speaking to a certain community.
All I can say is,T just got sweeter to me, by bringing out each rapper's inspirations and thoughts on what their music means to rap and the hip-hop movement as a whole.
As the trailer states, you know their music, you know the artists, but now you can learn their secrets of the folk art that changed the world.
Bun B B-Real Afrika Bambaataa Busy Bee Joe Budden Grandmaster Caz Common Anthony "Treach" Crisis Ice Cube Mike D Chuck D Royce Da 5'9" Dana Dane Mos Def Snoop Dogg Dr. Dre Eminem Lord Finesse Doug E. Fresh Adam Horovitz Ice-T Lord Jamar Cheryl 'Salt' James Big Daddy Kane Ras Kass Kool Keith KRS-One MC Lyte Marley Marl Darryl McDaniels Melle Mel Nas DJ Premier Q-Tip Raekwon Rakim Redman Puerto Rico Joseph Simmons Immortal Technique WC Kayne West Chino XL Xzibit Adam Yauch
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1. Ice-T, Freestyle (Live a cappella) 2. N.W.A., "Straight Outta Compton" 3. RUN-DMC, "Sucker M.C.'s (Krush-Groove 1)" 4. Eric B. & Rakim, "Follow The Leader" 5. KRS-One, Freestyle (Live a cappella) 6. Big Daddy Kane, "Raw" 7. Nas, "The World Is Yours" 8. Gang Starr, "Full Clip" 9. Immortal Technique, "New Jack Hustler" (Live a cappella) 10. Wu-Tang Clan, "As High As Wu-Tang Get" 11. Das EFX, "Real Hip-Hop" 12. Melle Mel, Freestyle (Live a cappella) 13. Schoolly D, "P.S.K. (What Does It Mean?)" 14. Ultramagnetic MC's, "Ego Trippin'" 15. Ras Kass, "Bentleys & Bitches" (Live a cappella) 16. Mantronix, "King of the Beats" 17. Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock, "It Takes Two" 18. Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force, "Don't Stop... Planet Rock" 19. Lord Jamar, "The Kid Magic (Live a cappella) 20. Q-Tip, "Vivrant Thing (Club Mix)" 21. MC Lyte, "Cold Rock A Party" 22. Public Enemy, "Harder Than You Think... Just Like That" 23. Grandmaster Caz, "The Art of Rap" (Live a cappella)