This weekend, Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap opens in theaters, and it is absolutely deserving of an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary. It’s compelling, witty and much needed in terms of refocusing us on what hip hop, and rap in particular, is really about. There have been a number of documentaries put out over the years that have focused on emceeing, but this one really hits home for a few reasons.
First, the stories are being told by those who do it. This is important, because far too often the nuanced and subtle perspectives by the practitioners are often left out or overshadowed by everyone else when documentaries are made. There’s no middle man, expert, punditry interpretation. Instead, you hear firsthand stories and thoughts and it leaves you understanding how and why hip hop, and in particular, rap, is an American art form given to the world.
The second thing is we got to hear from many of the pioneers and see them execute their craft without the feeling like they were being rushed off or their interviews cut short to make room for more well known or socially relevant artists.
Interviews with pioneering and iconic figures like Grandmaster Caz, Mele-Mel, and Big Daddy Kane are nicely balanced out with folks like Kanye West, Immortal Technique, and Eminem.
Ice T conducts each interview, pulling things out of his peers that many film makers probably couldn’t. It was good to see the camaraderie and mutual respect and admiration which often led humorous exchanges.
As with all hip hop docs, there’s no way to fit everyone and everything in. Some people will leave the theater feeling like the film didn’t include their favorite hometown rapper. There will be a few who say the film should’ve included more pioneers, more cats from the 80s, more cats from the 90s and millennium cats. Some will want more underground, others will want it to be more mainstream. Personally, I think Ice could’ve added a few more sistas in the mix. And even with all that, this is a must-see film. Especially since Ice allows each interviewee to talk and rap. He wasn’t cutting and editing just to fit everyone in. Honestly, the film could’ve been four hours long and I would’ve enjoyed every minute.
Check out the trailer for Art of Rap in theaters, and theartofrap.com to find show times in your area.
This article was originally published on TurnstyleNews.comon June 15, 2012.