Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap (15)


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On the subject of rap, or hip-hop as it's also known, I am mostly with Bobby Womack: "What the shit is that?" Rapper Ice-T's documentary leaves us none the wiser, ignoring the demands of critical inquiry in favour of a long, long procession of interviews with other famous rappers and MCs.

Some of them have incisive things to say: Ras Kass is honest in describing the two extremes of his fanbase as people who have enough time to learn stuff – "college students and niggers in prison".

But Ice-T utterly fails to address the serious issues surrounding the music, such as the glorification of violence, rampant misogyny and the fact that so many of its practitioners have died early deaths. (A long list of RIPs is appended over the closing credits.)

The one question that narks him is why rap doesn't get the same "respect" as other genres of black music like jazz and blues. No mystery there: rap simply isn't on the same level.