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!
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!
Nate, real name Nathaniel Dwayne Hale, hasn’t been well for a while, having suffered a massive stroke in 2007, and a second one in 2008 (he reportedly died from complications from both), but this was still a big shock and of course a huge loss, not just for his family and friends but to the hip hop community, for which Nate Dogg will forever be embedded in its history.
The classic hooks he crooned for key songs from the genre’s pivotal G-Funk Era (which kicked off in the early 90s as part of the whole Death Row Records movement), including staple classics such as Lil’ Ghetto Boy (Dr Dre’s The Chronic) Ain’t No Fun (Snoop’s Doggystyle), Next Episode (Dr Dre’s Chronic, 2001) and of course global smash Regulate (Warren G’s Regulate… G Funk Era), means he leaves behind a timeless legacy.
Signed to Death Row in his early career, he was certainly known more for his collaborations than his solo work, and throughout his career contributed to over 40 chart singles. His solo work, however, (which encompassed three albums) wasn’t as successful.
In 2001 he familiarised himself with a new generation of rap fans by appearing on Ludacris’ Area Codes. I mean, who else was gonna make that chorus (‘I’ve got hos in different area codes’) sound anything other than vulgar? The same man who had me singing, ‘It Ain’t No Fun if the homies can’t have none’, as a 17-year-old straight-laced female college student, that’s who.
Nate Dogg’s smooth as butter tone could make anything sound like an angel said it, which was a gift, and exactly why the song 21 Questions (2003), from 50 Cent’s debut album Get Rich or die Tryin’, is one of my faves – it’s the chorus, sung so beautifully by Nate, which makes that song for me.
‘Can we get a m**herf***king moment of silence for the small chronic break…’ and for the passing of Nate Dogg. You will be truly missed sir. I Miss The Old School salutes you.
Doggystyle was the second hip hop album I ever bought… Okay maybe it was the fourth, as I recall I bought DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s Homebase (you know the one with Summertime on it?) when I was 14, and I might have bought Marky Mark’s Music For The People before that (whaddya mean, that’s not a hip hop album? Sure it is! And a pretty damn good one!), and then Dr Dre’s The Chronic was the third… But regardless next to The Chronic, Doggystyle was my first ‘grown-up’ hip hop album, as it came under the ‘gangsta rap’ umbrella. I remember anticipating it for months before it actually dropped. This is because I had already fallen in love with The Chronic, which showcased the talented young rapper called Snoop Doggy Dogg, or Calvin Broadus as his mama named him. Continue reading “DOGGYSTYLE” »
Singer/actor Justin Timberlake appeared on The Jimmy Fallon Show last night to talk up his new movie The Social Network (which I am looking forward to seeing btw). While there, he and host Jimmy performed what at first appeared to be an impromptu rap medley! Accompanied instrumentally by hip hop legends The Roots (who also serve as the show’s house band), they stormed through an impressive set, which included old school faves from the likes of the Sugarhill Gang, RUN DMC, the Beastie Boys, Tupac,The Notorious B.I.G, Dre Dre and Snoop Dogg, as well as some more recent hits from artists such as Jay-Z. The pair even attempted to mimic the voices and styles of the rappers whose hits they delivered, and threw in a few dance moves, all to hilarious effect!
But all in all, they did a great job! Check it out below!
Yesterday was the 14th anniversary of Tupac’s death, and like many of the older generation who will always remember where they were when Elvis died or Martin Luther King was assassinated, those of us of my generation will remember where they were when they heard Tupac got shot, as we will now with Michael Jackson’s passing and as we still do so vividly with Princess Diana. Yes ‘Pac had been shot two years previous, at a recording studio in Manhattan, but this second time was to prove fatal