Ice-T talks with influential rappers about the history of rap and it’s cultural influences.
Ice-T decided to make the documentary as he felt he was the best equipped to tell the story of rap and as such, Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap starts off incredibly well. Ice-T starts his journey in new York City and talks with artists including Afrika Bambaataa, Mos Def and Salt from Salt ‘n’ Pepa. These artists talk about what and who influenced them, where rap came from and where they feel it is going. From New York, Ice-T journeys across the US, talking to Eminem, Kanye West and Dr Dre along the way.
The idea behind Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap is a great one; to bring the history of rap to the fore and explore its cultural influences, and the film starts off trying to do this, but it seems that Ice-T either lost sight of his vision for the film or the people he spoke to were not too sure about the origin of the art form, whatever the case, the film quickly descends into various artists slapping one another on the back, some great aerial shots of US cities and some acapella rapping.
For those who are fans of rap, this will be fantastic news, but for those who respect the art form but audience members who are not fans, but casually curious will not come out any wiser. In fact, those who actually came to learn more about rap will come out feeling slightly robbed; there is little in the film that explains anything to do with rap and hip hop, other than it’s a skill, not easy to learn, and has its roots in jazz and blues.
In all, Something from Nothing: The Story of Rap is a film for the rap fan. There is little in the film that will inform the casual rap listener, but if you are a rap fan then this is the film for you. As someone who respects rap, but doesn’t really appreciate it, I was underwhelmed.