The reason why rap is not as respected as Jazz or Blues, one MC muses, is because ‘people don’t understand the language’. Try as director Ice T might, by the time the end credits fall on The Art of Rap, there are still a few things that are lost in translation for those who are not rap aficionados. Still, even if total understanding remains elusive, Ice T’s documentary will certainly leave you with an appreciation of rap, and will particularly please fans of the genre.
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A renowned rapper in his own right, Ice T’s many years in the game have earned him the respect of rap’s finest. This is reflected in the wide range of interviewees; from past generations of MC’s – Melle Mel and Doug E. Fresh to name a couple – to the current crop of rappers like Eminem and Dr. Dre, there are many notable names that make an appearance. Ice T himself (real name Tracy Marrow) is an easy conversationalist, frequently funny whether talking with the artists or star struck passers by, and his engaging personality helps the interviews maintain their natural ambience. However, given that all these stars are present, the notable absences of some of rap’s prominent stars like Jay-Z and 50 Cent are somewhat surprising.
However, that takes nothing away from what are for the most part entertaining vignettes on the craft and the skill of rap. Whilst there is some light shed on aspects of rap’s history – the evolution of rap battles, initially dubbed ‘Dozens’, is discussed – the really interesting stuff comes from the MC’s themselves. From learning about rappers’ different styles and thought processes to which MC’s influenced them the most, there are a lot of insightful anecdotes shared throughout. These are typically accompanied by freestyles which leave you with no doubt that these guys were meant to be rappers, with Joe Budden, Q-Tip and KRS-One proving to be my personal highlights.
“Any Last Words?” The Art of Rap proves to be an engaging look at the global phenomenon that is rap music, and will serve as great motivation and guidance for budding wordsmiths. Rap fans – you won’t want to miss this.
Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap is out NOW. Check out the trailer below.