“To tell a true story you have start at the beginning.”
On his recent visit to London to promote his new documentary From Nothing To Something: The Art Of Rap, Gangsta Rap pioneer, actor and now documentary director Ice-T took some time to talk to us at SoulCulture, dropping gems of wisdom on the absence of newcomers in his film, the competitive nature of the genre, innovation in the future of rap and more.
On Why New Rappers Weren’t Featured In “The Art Of Rap”
“I just went through my phonebook, that’s all it was. It wasn’t an intent to cut out the young kids or anything. I just said I’m going to do a movie (and) I can’t offer money. I can only get favours, so let’s call my friends. And I called up the people I toured with.”
“I think in the end of the day, by me getting more of the veteran rappers, you get humility. You get to hear stories that a young rapper wouldn’t tell you. They are at the top of their game; they are not going to talk about any mistakes that happened. So I had to start with people like Grandmaster Caz and build up to this… it ends with Kanye and people of that nature.”
“There is another movie available for the next filmmaker — I was just trying to set up the foundation.”
Rap As A Competitive Sport
“One thing about rap is that you can be called wack. That’s what they got to understand. When I first came out I was wack and that is what made me get better. When Melle Mel dissed Public Enemy, I asked Chuck [D] how did you reconcile that – ‘we got better’ – Wack is a default word in hip-hop that says ‘step yo game up, man.’”
“Like Raekwon says in the film, ‘we want to be part of this fraternity. You have to reach a perimeter that we want… And if you don’t, we are like put a Band-Aid on it, come back later.’”
“A lot of kids now are saying that’s not valid, if I want to I can be part of it. What we are saying is… no you cant.”
“The trick with art — any art — is that there has to be a degree of difficulty to get to the Olympics. … That’s all we are saying. Dont think just because you picked a mic you’re in.”
Innovation And The Future Of Rap
“I don’t think you are going to be innovative doing Gangsta Rap. I think that’s been done, it’s been done to the fucking ground, we beat that through the ground. Whether it was me, whether it was Geto Boys, whether it was Jim Jones, whether it was 50 Cent. That’s been pretty much laid out.”
“Like Kool Keith said, look at what everybody else is doing, and don’t do that!”
Watch the full interview below.
The Art Of Rap is screening in select theatres, with DVD release planned in September. Visit theartofrap.com for details.