Review : Various Artists - Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap
AllmusicThe companion to Ice-T's 2012-released hip-hop documentary, this disc provides a small sampling of the best rap music released throughout the '80s and '90s, along with a 2007 track from Public Enemy. That makes the disc ideal for younger rap fans whose frame of reference dates back no earlier than 2000. Its flaw is the absence of southern representation -- no Geto Boys, OutKast, or even UGK, despite Bun B's appearance in the film -- but no inclusion is unworthy, from the underground classics (Schoolly D's "P.S.K. 'What Does It Mean?'") to the crossover hits (Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock's "It Takes Two"). The sequence is broken up by a handful of on-the-spot a capella exclusives from KRS-One, Immortal Technique, Melle Mel, Ras Kass, Brand Nubian's Lord Jamar, Grandmaster Caz, and Ice-T himself....full text
HayesatthemoviesIce-T talks with influential rappers about the history of rap and it’s cultural influences.
Ice-T decided to make the documentary as he felt he was the best equipped to tell the story of rap and as such, Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap starts off incredibly well. Ice-T starts his journey in new York City and talks with artists including Afrika Bambaataa, Mos Def and Salt from Salt ‘n’ Pepa. These artists talk about what and who influenced them, where rap came from and where they feel it is going. From New York, Ice-T journeys across the US, talking to Eminem, Kanye West and Dr Dre along the way.
The idea behind Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap is a great one; to bring the history of rap to the fore and explore its cultural influences, and the film starts off trying to do this, but it seems that Ice-T either lost sight of his vision for the film or the people he spoke to were not too sure about the origin of the art form, whatever the case, the film quickly descends into various artists slapping one another on the back, some great aerial shots of US cities and some acapella rapping.
For those who are fans of rap, this will be fantastic news, but for those who respect the art form but audience members who are not fans, but casually curious will not come out any wiser. In fact, those who actually came to learn more about rap will come out feeling slightly robbed; there is little in the film that explains anything to do with rap and hip hop, other than it’s a skill, not easy to learn, and has its roots in jazz and blues....full text
PopmattersEric B. & Rakim’s “Follow the Leader” is the greatest song in the history of mankind. While Eric B. whisks you into outer space on an impossibly deep bass squelch and Baby Huey horn stabs, Rakim lays down one of the most astounding solos ever committed to tape. Focus too much on the lyrics and you might miss his musical accomplishment: he unpacks the implications of Eric B.’s beat. Changing his rhythmic pattern with every line, Rakim traces the outlines of a core cadence that he never states directly. More than even the drums, Rakim propels the music using only the perfectly coordinated movements of his mouth and throat. That he does all this while saying actual words—quotable words (“I’m everlasting, I can go on for days and days”), words of winking audacity (“In this journey of the journal I’m the journalist / Am I eternal or an eternalist?”)... well, there’s just nothing like it, in music or art or literature or anywhere else you might care to look.
OK, maybe a couple other things compare. Jay-Z’s “99 Problems”; Ice Cube’s “The Nigga You Love to Hate”; The Coup’s “Breathing Apparatus”; A Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario”; Mr. Lif’s “Heavy Artillery”; Eminem’s “Stan”—each audacious song becomes the greatest song in the history of mankind any time I listen to it. Of those, only “Follow the Leader” appears on the soundtrack to Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap, Ice-T’s new documentary about the skill and craft that go into rapping. That’s fine; picking overlooked songs for soundtrack albums is a fool’s game, akin to yelling at people in the comments of their year-end Top 10 lists. Whatever your beef, at least listen to what this compilation is trying to tell you. But that’s the problem with this soundtrack: while it may make for a pretty good listen, it’s useless as an aesthetic manifesto. It doesn’t live up to its audacious subtitle....full text
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