Friday 20 July 2012

Wordy rappinghoods: "Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap"

With Something From Nothing, Ice-T gives us a lively overview of the art of rap - the prepwork that has always preceded the money and the women - as constructed through a series of conversations with many of the form's leading wordsmiths: Em, Dre, Snoop, Kanye et al.. You'll need to know who these figures are, and who the oft-cited 'Pac is, to most benefit from it, and I think it's fair to say the name Ice-T isn't going to become a byword for journalistic rigour: flashy helicopter shots keep threatening to remove us from the streets on which rap originated, and there's a sense T is chumming around with his interviewees, rather than pressing them on the subjects they spit out and skim over. Rap's meaning - its origins as a tool of protest, its occasional forays into sexism, homophobia and other thuggishness - is secondary to its methods here. A 90-minute primer like this can't measure up to C4's landmark series The Hip Hop Years, but the sheer cross-section of styles sought out (East Coast and West Coast; black, white and Latino; male and female) might just give it life as a repository of useful advice for any aspirant MCs out there: one consensus arrived at is "write it down". By way of additional value-for-money, a choice selection of old-school rhymes and beats graces the soundtrack, and the live performances T and his new crew capture have an urgent, often electrifying poetry about them.

Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap is in selected cinemas. 

No comments:

Post a Comment