Ice-T focuses on rap craft in 'The Art of Hip-Hop'
This June 11, 2012 photo shows rapper and actor Ice-T in Atlanta. Ice-T wants to show the importance of lyricism in rap music through his new documentary, "Something From Nothing: The Art of Hip-Hop," which premieres in 150 theaters on Friday. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
ATLANTA (AP) — Ice-T is infatuated with the clever wordplay associated with rap music.
So the rapper-actor takes offense when people — including his wife Coco — only pay attention to the beat of song and not its lyrics. He says spewing out rhymes for several minutes is not as easy as it looks: There's more to the craft of rap.
That is why Ice-T wants to show the importance of lyricism in rap music through his new documentary, "Something From Nothing: The Art of Hip-Hop."
In the documentary, Ice-T goes from New York to Los Angeles to Detroit to talk-one-on-one with acts ranging from Run-DMC, Eminem, Dr. Dre, KRS-One, Melle Mel, Kanye West to Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def). The result is an insightful, insider take on the rap game.
In advance of the film's Friday film opening in 150 theaters, Ice-T sat down to talk about rap's greats, respect, and even offered up his thoughts on the N-word controversy involving Gwyneth Paltrow.
The Associated Press: Who was the hardest to pin down for the documentary?
Ice-T: Probably Eminem. ... It wasn't his fault. Everybody on the phone call said, "Yes." Even people like Lil Wayne and them. Birdman and Ludacris. But I had a camera crew that's in London, I had myself who was on "Law & Order" fulltime then I'm trying to get you. It's just trying to triangulate people. ... It was tough.
AP: Some will likely criticize you for not including rappers from the South. Why weren't any from that region included?
Ice-T: I could only get the people who I could get my hands on. I tried to reach out to Ludacris. It wasn't an attempt to disrespect the South. ... But this is not what the movie is all about. It's more about the art form.
AP: How did it feel to have rappers like Eminem and Snoop Dogg recite lyrics from your song, "6 'N the Mornin'''?
Ice-T: The best way to compliment an emcee is to say his lyrics. That's how you say, "Hello."
AP: Do you think the art of hip-hop is lost nowadays?
Ice-T: It's just not being seen as much. There are some really incredible emcees. If anything, I think they are taking it up a notch. Honestly, some of these kids are rapping. For a moment, it got kind of wack. I was like, "Really?" ... But it's back. You got kids out here really rapping like Cory Gunz, Kendrick Lamar.
AP: Has rap always been art, or was there a turning point?
Ice-T: It's always has been an art. It's an extreme art; it's a competitive art; a competition art. It's all about (how) I can out rap you, out dance you, out DJ you.
AP: How do you feel about rappers who are not real hip-hop?
Ice-T: Rap is a vocal delivery. The weather man can rap. It doesn't mean you know hip-hop. I think now you have all these people rapping, but they're not really hip-hop. ... Everyone who raps isn't hip-hop. To be hip-hop, you've got to know the culture. You got to know the history.
AP: Do you consider Nicki Minaj real hip-hop?
Ice-T: She comes from a real hip-hop place. She's comes out of Brooklyn and she can really rap. But I think she has taken a lane to go more pop. She's out opening for Britney Spears. She's getting (money). Put to the test, she could rhyme side-by-side with anybody out there. ... She knows her history. She knows her base.
AP: Do the younger guys respect the veterans enough?