The main issue with The Art of Rap is that you will only find this movie interesting if you are any sort of rap fan in the first place. Even then, your interest will depend on how much of a rap fan you are and how many artists you recognise and care about. What feels like a good idea isn’t executed well enough considering the big names that are involved in the process.
Ice-T alone should be enough to warrant a decent documentary about rap music. He has enough respect and knowledge in the rap business to put something together that could be interesting and comprehensive. He has enough experience to know what would be worth investigating and what would be worth leaving alone – as well as enough of a contact list to choose the best people to talk to.
The final point comes to the forefront here and is used very well. Ice-T interviews a huge range of people about their experiences in rap music, what it means to them, how it is as an art form and many other, slightly random topics related to the style of music. From Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre, B-Real and Chuck D – this literally covers almost all the biggest names in rap, either now or at some point in it’s long past.
This is the frustrating part of the movie. Ice-T could have delivered the comprehensive look at the history of rap music that nobody else has managed to do but decides to ask random questions, specific to each individual but not of any interest to anyone than die-hard fans. From the first successful rappers to the current stars, this documentary could have been the best look at rap music and also the most accessible but manages to alienate even the half-dedicated fan of the genre.
The problem is that Ice-T is too friendly with the people he is interviewing. This is more of a chat amongst friends, sharing stories of the good old days or of times when they struggled in the business. They name-check other rappers or talk about feuds but never actually go into the decent detail that a good documentary would require.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t some interesting parts of the story. If you are a fan of any of the rappers interviewed here, you will find something of interest but the moment Ice-T talks to someone you may not be familiar with, the movie begins to drag because the conversation is too specific and alienating.
Overall, Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap holds it’s very issue in it’s title. It is too busy trying to talk about the Art of Rap rather than it’s interesting and illustrative history. It has a huge cast of many amazing and influential rappers but never uses them to their full potential. If you’re a fan, there is something there for you and can increase the rating for every artist you know but if you’re not a fan, this won’t change your mind anytime soon.
Rating – 2
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)