Ice-T wants rap to be respected as an art form. As director of the documentary Something From Nothing: Art of Rap, Ice-T interviewed 52 rappers and had 35 more in queue. It seems that rap’s global influence is undeniable, but that doesn’t mean the genre is respected in the way jazz or Rock is. As Ice-T put it, people think rapping is easy and anyone can do it. Through the Art of Rap Ice-T uses a legion of rappers to showcase the intricacies, complexities and technique of the music that formed in the late 70s.
He admits he only interviewed rappers he had relationships with; and in his 25 year career he has made quite a few legendary hip-hop friends. The first stop was the Bronx, NY to speak with Grandmaster Caz, one of the originators of hip-hop. A few of the other heavy hitting rappers and producers featured in the film are Afrika Bambaataa, Melle Mel, DJ Premier, Salt of Salt-N-Pepa, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, Doug E. Fresh, Marley Marl, Nas, Raekwon, Chuck D, Eminem, MC Lyte, Rev Run of Run-D.M.C. and countless others. Speaking of Rev Run, Ice-T tells VH1 News his favorite moment in the documentary was Run recanting what it felt like to be on top during the time he was a member of the biggest rap group at the time.
Rev Run’s response is laugh out loud funny. He tells the story of eating pancakes while sitting in his hotel bathtub. Syrup is running into the water, a groupie is at the hotel door waiting to get in and a magazine reporter is waiting for their scheduled interview. He describes being on top in three words: out of control. Ice-T says this is by far his favorite part of the film because it’s such an honest story. “All of a sudden you’re talking to Reverend Run and he’s talking about sitting in a bathtub and syrup is falling in,” Ice-T said. “Everybody wonders what’s it [like] at the top. Basically he said, it’s a point where if you’re not focused you can be out of control.”
In addition to the slew of certified Grade A emcees discussing the influence of rap, expect to hear some dope prewritten rhymes and freestyles spit. What makes the documentary great is its authenticity. The rawness of how the rappers tell their stories make it feel personal. At times you will nod your head because you agree, or you will hysterically laugh at their unfiltered words. Whether it’s Grandmaster Caz rolling up his reefer, Ice-T cursing out random pedestrians for stepping in front of the camera or Nas dropping knowledge about the resistance of mainstream toward hip-hop, it’s a documentary you don’t want to miss. Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap hits theaters Friday, June 15.