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“Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap” Sundance Film Review

Written by Dalena

If you are sitting at the at the theaters, on the balcony, in the furthest and highest rows, pushed into the corners, into the depths of sorrow and loneliness, having the pleasure to view more of the audience’s heads than the actual screen  and still manage to be physically, emotionally, and mentally moved by a film, then you know that is one good fucking film.

Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap is a documentary directed by Ice-T and Andy Baybutt that embraces the craft involved with rap and the overall hip-hop culture . By interviewing some of the most influential hip-hop artists like Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Eminem, Q-Tip, and Ice Cube (just to name a few) we are taken into various unique perspectives of rap and how rap and hip-hop culture has impacted them.

I was leaning forward, connected to the screen the entire time. I didn’t know what features captivated me more: the wisdom, the A cappella/freestyle segments, the accompanying music or the eye-drooling cinematography.

Asking Grandmaster Caz about his view, he said “hip-hop didn’t invent anything, it reinvented everything,”  explaining that blues, soul, and jazz were the roots where hip-hop was born. Rap music is interpreted as an identity, a voice, and it’s almost as if you give a child a piece of clay and ask him to create his perception of art: you’re going to get a variety of different forms but essentially still clay.

The most intriguing and original feature of the documentary is the A cappella/freestyle moments where each rapper exemplifies his/her skill by performing their own rap. No music, no beat. The camera get’s an intimate long shot of each artist, each artist captivating the audience with their own special charisma.

The music correlated with the artists interview and directed into the next with transitions of the colorful cinematography. Painting aerial shots of New York and LA, the movie shows the scope of the life in a way that the scenes unfolded and revealed architecture in these distinct colors of warm and cool saturation.

Though the questions asked in the interviews were always the same, the answers differed for certain contexts that gave each interview character. The film showed the contrast in different parts of America that hip-hop has developed in but I just wish they would have went south or developed more in the midwest. Even the west didn’t receive proper coverage but all in all, we have to consider the limitations of film.

You don’t have to be a hip-hop head to appreciate the eccentric interviews, passion, and compositions within the film. There is a lot to say about the movie, especially the content presented but it will be restrained in hopes that you feel intrigued enough to watch the movie yourself.


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  1. Ice-T's directoral debut in 'Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap' to be released June 2012 | Ifelicious Thoughts