Ice-T is director and teacher in ‘Art of Rap’

    Rapper-actor Ice-Tshared what he calls his “love letter to hip-hop” during a special screening in Atlanta of his new film Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap.

    First appearing earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, The Art of Rap marks Ice’s directorial debut, as it delves into the minds and thought processes of 38 of some of the most influential rappers like Grandmaster Caz, Rakim, Dougie Fresh, MC Lyte, Eminem, and Nas.

    “I was looking at the condition of rap and I felt people didn’t really respect this as an art form,” explained Ice. It became imperative for him make the film after he saw a weather man rapping a weather report and making a mockery of the art.

    Although Ice was working full-time shooting his thirteenth season as Fin Tutuola on NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” he flew his film crew in from London and they began shooting in New York, the birthplace of rap, and crossed the country to Los Angeles, with a few key stops along the way.

    Through intimate conversations, Ice uncovers how some of our favorites came to be rappers, what rap means to them, and exactly how they come up with their rhymes. During the film, the audience is treated to hilarious recollections of embarrassing moments, little known facts, and some incredible freestyles. DJ Red Alert and rap pioneers The Furious 5 were in attendance, and it looked like they were conjuring up some old memories, too.

    We all know rap music can rock a party, but Ice saidit can do a lot more, like putting a Black man in the White House. According to Ice, about 10 percent of this country’s population is Black, so it can be deduced that White voters played a huge role in electing the nation’s first African-American Commander in Chief.

    “Those White people are rap fans," Ice insisted. "If it wasn’t for hip-hop, those people wouldn’t have voted for Obama. We broke down a lot of barricades."

    There’s still more to do, though. With a war going on, people losing their homes, and shadiness on Wall Street, Ice said in frustration, “N*#gas is rappin’ about bottles and bull*#@t, and they’re lying on top of it.”

    He added, “We’re in a gossip-based culture more concerned about what I’m driving and who I got beef with than the art form. We’re kinda lost in the mix of no art, just the drama.” But all is not lost. Ice does see light at the end of the tunnel. “N*#gas is spittin’ again. I’m really happy with what’s happening in hip-hop.” Specifically, he likes T.I., Kendrick Lamar and Lupe Fiasco. “I like Lupe because he goes against the grain.”

    With numerous speaking engagements and two hit TV shows (he also stars alongside his wife, who was also in attendance, in E!’s hit reality show “Ice Loves Coco”), Ice knows how to manage his time in order to get it all done. But this particular project proved to be a logistical nightmare.

    “Do you know how hard it is to pin down a rapper?” joked Ice. He attempted to rep Atlanta with TI, who was unfortunately incarcerated while he Ice was shooting the film, and Ludacris, who had to travel to Africa. No worries. Ice assures us, “If you didn’t see your favorite rapper, trust me, you’ll see your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper.”

    For this project, Ice reached out to all of his friends, and every one of them wanted to be a part of this landmark documentary. His first director’s cut was a whopping four hours long and that’s after he had to stop conducting interviews because there were simply too many rappers to touch on.

    In the future, he plans on releasing the hours of unused footage that didn’t make the cut. But for now, Ice says “This is me giving back, hopefully hitting the reset button on the game.” Art of Rap opens in theaters this Friday, June 15.

     

     

    —Stephanie Dayton

     

     

     

    Here’s more:

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