★ ★ ★
Starring Ice-T, Dr. Dre, Chuck D., Snoop Dogg, Directed by Ice-T, Andy Baybutt
The rap and hip-hop genres come with their own stereotypes and set of expectations, which comes with being a part of our pop culture. The only problem is these stereotypes tend to be predominantly negative and a lot of people mistakenly regard these genres as "low culture" or not a serious art form. If you think about it, most of the complaints about the rap genre are that it's crude, offensive and violent. And while this may hold true on a superficial level, that isn't to say there's nothing of substance present. Do people say that a movie is less of an art because it contains controversial or mature subject matter? No, in fact, these films are usually regarded as having depth as well as cultural and social relevance. So, why is rap measured differently and often times written off as smut?
Between acting, starring on a reality TV show and playing X-Box, Ice-T attempts to answer this question and change the public's perception of his art in his compelling documentary, Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap. "I want people to see rap is more than the money, cars and girls," he states as the objective of the film, which is ultimately fulfilled. He travels from city to city, picking the brains of the most influential rappers in the business (everyone from Eminem to Kanye), and adding his own commentary and famous wisecracks. The documentary is extremely laid back and genuine – it feels like you're eavesdropping on friends conversing, baring their honest feelings. Every artist featured seems to feel strongly about the pigeonholing of the genre and has plenty of knowledgeable insight to offer. The most interesting part of the film, however, is being able to see them freestyle on the spot. Yes, it's cool and showcases the talent these rappers possess, but there's something more to be taken away from this simple exercise and that is how moving the lyrics are when the music is taken away. This documentary can feel repetitive at times, but is a huge and necessary step taken in order for rap to be fully respected as an art form.