"Something From Nothing" Is Something To See
June/19/2012 07:28 AM
Educational. Motivational. Historical.
“Something From Nothing, The Art of Rap” is an enlightening documentary created by Ice T that sheds new light on the hip hop movement in a way that many of us have never understood it before. Musicians and fans alike will want to bring a notepad to take notes and buy two tickets to back to back showings so that they can soak in everything there is to learn.
From the opening scene of a helicopter flying over New York City to the closing scenes on the streets of Los Angeles, this movie will engage you with gorgeous imagery, powerful reality, on the street and in the studio interviews that capture the craft of creating rap music.
Lord Jamar explains that the evolution of rap as a response to a down economic time when schools stopped offering music programs and instruments were disappearing out of the hands of children. “They tried to take the instruments and music from us, so we took the record player and turned it into an instrument, which it wasn’t supposed to be.”
The all-star cast provides one amazing interview after the next and often break out in on camera impromptu freestyling. The line-up hip hop industry icons including: Bun B, B-Real, Afrika Bambaataa, Busy Bee, Joe Budden, Grandmaster Caz, Common, Anthony 'Treach' Criss, Ice Cube, Chuck D., Royce Da 59, Dana Dane, Mos Def, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Lord Finesse, Doug E. Fresh, 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, Kanye West, Chino XL, and Xzibit.
While the freestyling during the movie draws applause from the theatre, the lyrical analysis brings out audible appreciation for the craft, the poetry and the process. This documentary fully engages its’ audience and finds a way to be both entertaining and educational. The power of expression in this movie is effectually moving.
Cheryl ‘Salt’ James tells Ice T that if someone isn’t listening to the song lyrics, they are missing half the song. While Ice T as a lyricist agrees with her, he also discusses with other artists that even if people hear the words, it does them no good if they don’t understand the street language or the world in which MCs live. When Afrika Bambaata is asked to explain what he feels hip hop is he says, “Hip hop includes the fifth element--knowledge.”
Grandmaster Caz insists, “Hip-hop didn’t invent anything. Hip-hop reinvented everything.” He explains how MCs have given new life to old music like jazz and other music from their parent’s time.
“Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap” does an excellent job of covering the evolution of the genre from every angle, including its’ historical roots to slavery. An interesting parallel is drawn between “the dozens” (slaves that were not physically or mentally sound sold in dozens that traded insults in the tradition of “snapping” or “cracking”) and rappers battling on the street. On the flip side, Ice-T explores the idea that the very tradition of battling may prevent the music from gaining the respect it deserves.
Rakim talks about how listening to music can take you back in time to childhood. He says there are certain songs he hears that remind him of when he was five years old and he can “smell the chicken cooking in the kitchen.”
Eminem says losing his first battle made him want to quit at first, but then inspired him to work harder. He credits rap music and his daughters with saving his life.
Snoop Dogg’s closes his interview with a powerful line. He is asked by Ice T to give his final thoughts on the art of rap. Snoop Dogg advises, “Find yourself. Find your art. Find your heart.”
Life of a Rock Star thinks you should “find the time” to see this important movie.
View the “Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap” movie trailer: