Review: Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap
Last night saw the European premiere of Ice-T’s highly anticipated documentary, Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap. The event was not one to be missed for any hip-hop heads and lovers of wordplay. UK rappers we saw there included Sway, Wretch 32, Jehst, K. Koke and Exo…
Contributing founder of gangster rap Ice-T enlisted legends of the hip-hop scene to talk us through their thought-processes, favourite rap lyrics and how they started out in the game.
An impressive amount of artists were featured, including Chuck D, Immortal Technique, Nas, Run-DMC, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Dougie Fresh, Grandmaster Caz, Dr Dre, Kanye West, Rakim, Joe Budden, Melle Mel, Common and more.
We were taken right back to the basics, with New York back-drops heavily featured in the visuals, reminding us of hip-hop’s place of birth. Ice-T then took us through to Detroit and of course, to his turf - the West Coast. Interestingly enough, the south was not featured, leaving out some key players.
The film was quite fast-paced for a documentary film, which would keep some people entertained; however I found the quick transitions quite overwhelming at times.
Regardless, the film was informative and funny. Ice-T ensured there were many moments of humour, which made the film for me. Hip-hop is known to be an egotistical form of art, so it was refreshing to see lyricists discuss their most vulnerable moments.
One cringe-worthy revelation ironically came from Kanye West. As he was interviewed, he told us about his first rap battle, which went miserably wrong when his opponent delivered the line, ‘wassup, my name is Chris and let me tell you one thing, you smell like p***’ - obviously he lost that battle!
Snoop had his normal banter in check, saying his ‘main inspiration was having two women by his side.’
Ice-T asked the rappers to spontaneously spit their favourite lyrics of all time, and of course, they had to deliver. As expected, Ice-T knew every rhyme they presented to him and often rapped along.
When talking rap essentials, a lot of the rappers agreed that their voice and delivery was an important part. Chuck D said: ‘you had to have a strong voice to cut through the systems.’ Ice-T later praised Cypress Hill for their delivery of rhymes, saying: ‘When you came out, the vocal delivery was so real.’
Salt n Pepa and MC Lyte were the only females in the film, which was a bit disappointing as I felt others could have gotten involved, such as Lauryn Hill.
Overall, the docufilm delved into interesting subjects, thankfully neglecting the money, women and bling side of 21st century rap and concerning itself more with the technicalities of the art form and the business.
As the film finished, we were treated to phenomenal performances by Melle Mel, Chuck D, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah and Ice-T; it was a tremendous showcase of linguistic skill which left me simply mesmerised.
Words: Shireen Fenner (@shireenxoxo)
Edit: Maz Khan (@mazhalima)