Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap

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I’m a 30-something & the 80s are my era. I’m now one of these old people who hears current music on the radio & goes “What is this SHIT? This isn’t music!”. Especially with current rap (I mean…. Lil Wayne… What’s THAT all about?!). Then I remember my Grandma saying the exact same thing years ago when hearing Run-DMC on the radio & I think “Crap. I’m old. Because Run-DMC were GOOD. Maybe Lil Wayne is good too but I’m just old & not with the times?!” Someone please tell me that I’m not old & just have good taste… 😉

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I’ll start this review by saying that I have VERY little knowledge about rap. I like various types of music – it depends on each individual song – but the majority of what I like has always been rock & indie, especially the more classic rock of the 60s, 70s & a bit of the 80s. Favorites are things like Iron Maiden, Radiohead, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, The Beatles, anything with David Byrne singing… I could go on & on. When I do like current music I’ve realized that it’s usually when it sounds like my favorite OLD music (The Black Keys, Tame Impala, Wolfmother). So this review is coming from a girl who wouldn’t exactly consider rap to be her favorite genre. Okay – I’ll stop blathering on about the music I like & get on with this review now!

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Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap was directed by Ice-T and co-directed by Andy Baybutt. It focuses on the skill involved in creating & performing rap verses. I think this documentary is really aimed more at the true rap fans – it didn’t give me the in-depth history of rap that I was hoping for since it’s something I don’t know a lot about. It’s not a documentary about the older music that influenced rap artists in the first place & how rap music came about (other than each of the rap artists in the documentary talking about OTHER rap artists who had influenced them). What about mentioning all the great original songs sampled in rap? None of this is the fault of the documentary, though – it’s not about the “history” of rap, it’s about the “art” of rap as the title states. I’d just not really read a synopsis beforehand.

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It’s worth the watch just for the fact that they managed to get A LOT of famous rappers together for it. I’d at least heard of maybe half of them even if I don’t really know their stuff – the hubby did get annoyed at how I kept going “who’s that??”. Grandmaster Caz is the one featured the most in the documentary as Ice-T puts him on the spot & gives him 20 minutes to write & perform a rap based on the Art Of Rap documentary. This requires weed!

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Actually, I think it’s worth mentioning all of the rappers featured in the documentary – here’s the full alphabetical list from IMDB of those involved:

Bun B
Afrika Bambaataa
Busy Bee
Joe Budden
Grandmaster Caz
Anthony ‘Treach’ Criss
Ice Cube
Chuck D.
Royce Da 59
Dana Dane
Mos Def
Snoop Dogg
Dr. Dre
Lord Finesse
Doug E. Fresh
Lord Jamar
Cheryl ‘Salt’ James
Big Daddy Kane
Ras Kass
Kool Keith
MC Lyte
Marley Marl
Darryl McDaniels
Melle Mel
DJ Premier
Puerto Rico
Joseph Simmons
Immortal Technique
Kanye West
Chino XL

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I’d recommend this documentary to anyone who has enough of an interest in rap music and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who sees rap as a true art form & would be impressed at all the on-the-spot rapping Ice-T asks each of them to do. I’m sure there’s a lot of skill involved in doing that – I know I sure as hell couldn’t do it! If you have little or no interest in rap in the first place, though, it’s unlikely you’d find this documentary very interesting or suddenly have a profound understanding of and love for rap after seeing this.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Seems to make sense to include some music at the end of this review so here are some of my rap favorites:

KRS-One – Sound Of Da Police

Run-DMC – It’s Tricky

Public Enemy – Don’t Believe The Hype

A Tribe Called Quest – Can I Kick It?

Grandmaster Flash – The Message (my favorite by far – never leaves my iPod)

To be taken seriously, I’ve resisted the urge to include Digital Underground – The Humpty Dance…. Oh screw it – here it is! :-p

And, finally, an old clip that I still find hilarious 🙂

No, wait! I have to end this with The Wedding Singer’s rapping granny. Love her! 😉

13 thoughts on “Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap

    • Thanks! 🙂 Yep – I love the Tame Impala sound. Sounds like The Beatles some of the time – that’s always a good thing if you ask me! 🙂 Um… Except for when it came to Oasis. Hated Oasis for some reason.

  1. Cool review. I really want to check this out. KRS ONE is one of my absolute heroes. I saw him live last year (it was the first time he had been to Australia cause he has a horrid fear of flying, so he took the three month boat trip out here) and it was the best gig I have ever been too. So am definitely keen to see him in this and just check something out that is dedicated to oldschool hip-hop.

    • This documentary is definitely for you, then. 🙂 That has to be a horrible fear of flying – I hate flying but I’m pretty sure I’d hate being on a boat much more! KRS-One is probably also my hubby’s favorite rapper & he said to say he saw him live in like 1987. Have to admit I don’t know much beyond Sound Of Da Police! But I do think that one is great. I didn’t really like rap until much later – I was from a small farming community & you were considered a bit weird if you listened to anything other than Metallica or Guns N Roses. It was probably unfair of me to also gloss over the later rappers who are in the documentary – Eminem, Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg, etc. Just never liked that era of rap.

      • Sounds like your husband has excellent taste in his hip-hop then. I’m with you on that later generation. None of those guys ever particularly resonated with me. And the later hip-hop that I listen to (Common, The Roots, Mos Def) has not had the same cultural impact as those guys.

      • Good taste! You’ve mentioned some of the only current stuff that I can stand. 🙂 I almost mentioned Common & Mos Def, both also in the documentary.

      • That’s awesome they are both in there. Even more excited now. Got the monthly TV guide for my pay tv in mail the other day and this film is showing in a couple of weeks time. So definitely looking forward to checking it out.

      • (And this is sad but I also almost mentioned that The Roots & Mos Def are super cool for being on Yo Gabba Gabba. 😉 The song The Roots did on that show was great! Lovely love my family, I think it was called).

  2. It’s interesting reading a review of a rap movie written by someone who admittedly isn’t a huge fan of rap, a point of view to which I can certainly relate. Even though I’ve grown up in this current generation of rap, I’m definitely not a fan of the genre. Like you, I prefer 60s and 70s rock, as displayd on my Beatle blog,! But, if I had to choose one hip hop artist I like, I’d choose Run-DMC!

    • Yeah – I’d choose The Beatles over any rap artist. 😉 I do think Run-DMC were probably the best of them all. Also liked the ones it was acceptable to like in my little metal town – The Beastie Boys & Cypress Hill. Rap metal like Rage Against The Machine is more me, though.

  3. Pingback: Sound City (2013) Review | Cinema Parrot Disco

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