On June 15, Ice-T’s Sundance Film Festival selected Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap will finally hit theaters across the country. Now, in a recent interview with Time, the gangsta rap legend speaks on his directorial debut.
Ice explained that the film came out of a growing resentment towards modern Hip Hop and the lack of lyricism in the mainstream. He said that he simply wanted to sit down with his musical peers and delve into what rapping meant to them and Hip Hop culture outside of the industry’s influence.
“I wanted to start directing. I’ve been in film for a while and that’s something I want to do down the road, and I said, ‘Maybe this should be my first project,'” he said. “I was looking at the state of Hip Hop and I was like, ‘I don’t feel people respect it as much as they should.’ So I went out and called all my friends. I said, ‘I want to do interviews with you, but I’m going to talk to you about not the money, the cars, the jewelry, the beef. I want to talk about the craft.’ They were like, ‘Nobody ever asks us those questions.'”
Ice-T continued on to discuss how he feels the pop music industry is hurting both the art and culture of Hip Hop. He explained that rap was a counter-cultural movement intended to give the disenfranchised a voice, but that music industry pressures are minimizing artists’ ability to speak freely. However, he went on to say that true fans of rap will continue to seek out and support real Hip Hop despite this.
“In the movie Mos Def quotes Q-Tip: ‘Rap is not pop. If you call it that, then stop.’ The true origin of rap is counter-culture. The true origin of rap is say something that they’re not saying on the radio,” he explained. “When you kind of blend into what popular culture is doing, you’re losing the power of Hip Hop. We’ve got to keep rocking the boat. We’ve got unemployed people, we’ve got a black President, we’ve got election year, we’ve got Occupy Wall Street. If you’re just going to rap about ‘I got money and we balling,’ and all that, you’re not doing with it what it was meant to do. It’s meant to rock a party, but it was meant to change the world.”
He added, “I think that a rap aficionado, the hardcore rap fan, will always go away from pop, in the same way a hardcore jazz fan will never think Kenny G is really a jazz artist. You gotta kind of know there’s always going to be that purist who’s going to be like if it ain’t beats and rhymes, if there ain’t a DJ, then that ain’t Hip Hop.”