Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap - Blu-ray Review

'Ice-T is not necessarily here to document or preach, to argue or cajole. He's here to establish a legacy.'

In Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap, Ice-T is on a mission. He's not necessarily here to document or preach, to argue or cajole. He's here to establish a legacy.

There's a fear at the heart of The Art Of Rap, a fear that the music Ice-T made, and that the cast of characters the film visits still make, is under-appreciated, considered a lower class of genre for some reason, not appreciated in its time. Ice-T is out to correct that. Why don't we talk about Rap as art, he asks? Why is Jazz held up on a pedestal and rap forced down to the gutter? Surely, we deserve some recognition.

At one point Ice-T meets Grandmaster Caz, at 51 a fellow veteran, who makes the best argument for Rap as art the film has. With the cameras rolling (and roll-up of dubious content being smoked) Caz sits down to write. The song which eventually appears, titled The Art Of Rap, might not be the greatest rap song ever but it is certainly impressive. Imagine if Mozart sat down to write a brief tune or Monet a pencil sketch. The effect is similar.

Co-directed by Andy Baybutt and Ice-T himself, the latter makes plenty of attempts to get to the heart of the matter, with several of the interviewees proving insightful. There is though, too much of a desire to get everyone in, to chronicle the history of the character in Rap, rather than search for its place in the line. Too many subjects have little to say on Rap as art. More time with erudite and philosophical practitioners, such as Dr. Dre and Caz, would have paid benefits.

Because of this diaspora nature, Ice-T doesn't quite get to where he wants to be. There's hints of it, such as Caz's song and the melding of rap words and beautiful photography of the East and West coasts, but the revelations and compelling reasons for Rap's status just don't quite shine through enough. An important try though and vital for fans of the genre, the Blu-ray picture quality is beautiful.

Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap is released on UK DVD and Blu-ray on Monday 8th October 2012.


  1. Meant to watch this when it entered cinemas but never got a chance and it seemed to disappear pretty quickly.

    Grew up with rap/hip-hop but never ICE-T ever answer the question of why rap is treated as a second-class creative medium? Or should I wait and watch the doc and find out?!

    1. The closest it gets to an answer I think is when one of the interviewees (didn't catch his name and he's only on for one small bit, despite being one of the best speakers) starts talking about respect and says that there's a culture of disrespect in rap you don't get in other genres. 'Why should the outside respect us when we don't respect ourselves'. That rang true but it is also worth watching for other inputs and hypotheses.