This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ice-T and The Art Of Rap

 This morning, on an already hot summer day, I  flipped on Netflix and eventually landed on a documentary that sounded like it might be vaguely interesting.

I'll give it five minutes, I thought to myself, appreciating the modern convenience of video streaming.

The documentary was Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap, directed by Ice-T.  It's not exactly the type of thing you'd expect someone like me to watch.  I'm a white chick.  So white that the Wonder Bread doughiness of my legs may, in fact, be considered a marvel in certain circles.

I wouldn't generally describe myself as a "fan" of rap and hip-hop.  To be honest, when I was younger, I would tell people that I liked all kinds of music except rap, heavy metal and country.  Now, I listen to all three.  It just goes to show that tastes change over time.  It also proves the point  that if you're open-minded in life, you may discover new things and even surprise yourself.

Yes, I thought as the opening credits began, I listen to hip-hop and rap from time to time.  Ok, Ice. I'll give your doc a chance.  Maybe I'll learn something.

Over an hour later, I was still watching.  The artists Ice-T interviews shed light about their writing process and talk about the evolution of both hip-hop and rap.  I discovered the virtuosity it takes to become successful at wordplay and verbal acrobatics.  I learned things I wasn't expecting to learn.  Things I hadn't really given much thought to like:  What constitutes whackness?  And why doesn't
hip-hop get the respect of jazz and blues?

As DJ Premier says in the film, "it's like a language, you have to know how to listen to it.  Growing
up as a middle-class white chick in a suburban Midwestern town, I don't understand the streets.  Not in the way these artists do.  They speak of reality in a way that many of us want to turn a blind eye to because we don't get it (and most of us would rather not know.)

The best artists don't just freestyle.  They agonize over every line of their rhymes.  They consider themselves to be lyricists.  They want you to listen, to pay attention, to identify with them.  In my viewing of Something From Nothing, I've gained a newfound respect and appreciation for both hip-hop and rap as the art forms they are.  When I see someone like Doug E. Fresh do what he calls, "doing the beat," I'm blown away by the percussive sounds he can make just using his mouth and body.

So, give it five minutes.  And before you know it, you will have watched the entire doc.  Not only
that, but if you're open-minded you'll discover that in the process, Ice-T has succeeded in elevating
the music form in your mind.

Something From Nothing:The Art Of Rap was an official selection at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.  It's currently available for streaming on Netflix as well as other video-on-demand platforms.

ALSO OF NOTE:  The 14th Annual BET Awards, celebrating the achievements of African-Americans in sports and entertainment, will be broadcast LIVE tomorrow night (6/29/14) The award show takes place in downtown Los Angeles at LA Live and will be hosted by Chis Rock.  For more
information, visit  #BETAwards #LALive

Copyright 2014 by Kendra Liedle / cococaffeine

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