I’ve been meaning to write this since the beginning of the week, but better late than never, right? Rather than pen a overall review, I thought I’d list my favourite things about the very insightful documentary, The Art of Rap, directed and presented, by Ice T. Hope you enjoy!
1) The stories and anecdotes.
My favourite of these stories being KRS1′s hilarious revelation that he became an emcee after being an innocent bystander in a rap battle. According to him, one of the emcees turned to the crowd, picked him out and started dissing him hardcore about his attire. Well, Chris wasn’t having that. He defended himself, buried the guy and the rest is hip hop history.
2) The greatest sounding voices in hip hop didn’t come naturally… At first.
MC Lyte is one of the most respected females to ever touch the mic, and has arguably the most recognised and projecting voice of any female rapper ever. However, she didn’t start out this way! Lyte reveals in the doc that it was down to much coaching from Lucien George Sr (the father of the brothers from 90s hip hop crew Full Force), which helped her developed that big unique voice we now all know and love! There are similar interesting stories to do with voices included in the footage from Chuck D and Muggs from Cypress Hill, but I’ll let you watch the film for yourself for those.
3) Rappers are fans too!
I loved hearing Redman gassing about Eminem, and then Eminem reminiscing that after hearing a verse from Naughty by Nature’s Treach (as an upcoming rapper), it depressed him and forced him to rethink his own approach. But it was all down to the love of how good he thought his rhyme was! Elsewhere, Dougie Fresh reciting lyrics from his heroes Melle Melle and Kool Moe Dee was a joy to watch – he was like any other fan, giddy with excitement! In addition, I’m sure Snoop Dogg’s perfect rendition of Ice T’s Six In The Morning, was one of the reasons why the Dogg Father’s slot in the doc was one of the longest included!
4) Rappers and writers/journos – we got so much in common.
This comparison is nothing new, but this film took me back to the reason why I started writing in the first place, and reignited my creative juices – thanks Ice T! I started writing as soon as I was able to string sentences together, from stories at primary school, which my teacher regularly read out to the rest of the class to plays which I would perform with my friends in the playground! Like a rapper, I get off on story-telling and documenting my experiences through words! Hearing Rakim and Eminem get all technical about how they write their bars, made me lean over to my bestie as we watched this in the cinema, and before I has a chance to say anything he said: ‘You can so relate, can’t you?’
5) Dr Dre has only spent two weeks out of the studio in 27 freaking years!
Damn! That tells anyone with half a brain that success doesn’t come easy! Also, if you love what you do, you will never really work a day in your life – it is clear that Dre spends so much time in the studio because he simply loves being there!
6) Joe Budden’s rhyme
This was one of the standouts for me in the entire doc. And I didn’t see it coming. This is not because I don’t rate him… But I guess if someone asked me (pre-watch) who I thought was going to leave a lasting impression on me after watching the doc, Joe Budden’s name wouldn’t have been in my top 50, put it that way – I just haven’t really considered him like that in years, if at all. Granted, I know Slaughterhouse are doing great things and his credibility as an emcee has had a resurgence due to that project, but this one verse made me want to go and check them out a bit more thoroughly. What I also took from that is that there are so many dope rappers out there, but because of politics, wanting to go mainstream, losing their way/hunger/mojo (we’ve all been there) and trying to hard to follow trends, they kind of let go of that original flavour they first came with! If every emcee out now rhymed with that fresh mentality and heart they first possessed when they entered the game, we may have less superstar rappers but we’d have a lot more modern-day classic material – just my humble opinion! The business of hip hop turned a lot of good emcees in to not great rappers! Personally I blame a lot of that on the fans – coz a lot of times the wider audience doesn’t support what’s actually GOOD, and emcees/rappers need to eat!
7) Don’t get it twisted about Ice T, AND this dude’s address book is crazy!
Anyone knocking Ice T’s credibility in the game, due to forays into project such as the reality TV show Ice Loves CoCo, which follows the relationship with the self-professed original gangster rapper and his Barbie-bodied wife, should know that a leopard rarely changes his spots! Ice T knows hip hop and the fact that a lot of credible people wanted to be a part of this project shows that Ice has that respect! What I said in my above post is true, but like Joe Budden, that original talent, swag or flavour is always there in someone, even though you may not see it, due to them moving in a total different direction, gaining more success or maturing. But hopefully once in a while you still get to see that come out! Snoop Dogg has almost become a bit of a caricature to the mainstream media, but when you see him doing what he does best, there is no doubt that the original Snoop Doggy Dogg is in the buildin’! Holla!
8) New York and L.A have some beautiful skylines. For Real!
The connecting shots for the doc largely consisted of beautifully shot footage of new York and L.A Skylines. Simply stunning!
10) Not everybody’s got it like Biggie, so just ‘do you’!
Treach was spot on when he said something along the lines of : ‘so many rappers boast about not writing down their lyrics and it shows, coz their rhymes are whack!’ The truth of the matter is, who cares whether you write stuff down or not, if it sounds dope then I’m sure most fans don’t care either way. But those emcees/rappers who are trying to prove something to everybody by deliberately not jotting down your lyrics and coming up with whackness? In the words of Jeru Da Damaja, ‘You’re playing yourself!’
10. Grandmaster Caz
I’m not afraid to admit I wasn’t really familiar with this cat before watching this, but I’m glad this doc gave me a flavour of what he is all about. He is a beast lyrically and an all round funny dude! Just my type of man! Another artist I look forward to digging deeper into.
A Lil Gripe…
As with everything, there are always going to be things that everyone thinks could have been better, my main gripe in this documentary is I wasn’t too hot on Raekwon, Ras Kass and Q-Tip’s inclusion, and not coz I don’t like them as artists, the opposite in fact. I just felt the weight they have bought to hip hop, and the part they have played in terms of the art thus far was not reflected in the best way. I totally understand the lack of time and trying to squeeze everyone in, but I still believe that if the right questions where asked, or the right edits included, this could have been achieved. With something called the ‘Art of Rap’, some of the best to do it should have been asked more directly about the actual art, their art – coz some of us students really want to know that stuff!