Film and TV

New Doc The Art Of Rap Spills Hip-Hop's Secrets

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.).

Along with the film, Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, will release a digital-only soundtrack next Tuesday, June 12.

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?

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Taylor Moon
Contact: Taylor Moon