Ice T Breaks Down Hip-Hop Lyricism in New Film, ‘The Art of Rap’

There is a difference between being a rapper and an emcee. Anyone can pick up a mic and make a hit with good production and radio play. However, it takes a great wordsmith to become a great emcee.

Ice T hopes to drive that point home in the new film, The Art of Rap. The L.A. based rapper and actor, who was prominent in hip-hop during the late ’80s and early ’90s, traveled to different cities and interviewed the top emcees in hip-hop to get their secrets on how they construct raps.

Rolling out was present as Ice T previewed the film during a private screening in Atlanta.

Here is what he had to say about the film.–amir shaw

What inspired you to do a film based on hip-hop lyricism? 

The idea for my movie was kind of an intersection.  I want to direct movies and I always set my goals to do things.  I started rapping and ended up on movies and TV.  I want to direct feature films. In business, always go for the lowest swinging fruit, meaning start with something you know. In certain places, you’ll look and it seems like people are making a mockery of hip-hop. A film sometimes gets your point across better than talking or making a record. This is me giving back, and hopefully, hitting a reset button on the game. Rap can rock a party, but it can do a lot more.

How did you choose the rappers you wanted in the film?

I’m doing “Law & Order” full time, my camera crew came from London and it was hard to pin down a lot of rappers. I have two hours of footage on each artist, so there’s a lot more to this film. This film is like the teaser. I will eventually release all the footage on Ice Cube and the other rappers.  The hardest thing about this movie was the editing process. The director’s cut was four hours.

What is the main thing you want people to get from this film?

The main thing I want people to get out of this is respect for the art form.  We call it something from nothing.  When I started rapping, nobody had ever bought a car from money earned by rapping. When you [are]doing stuff and not getting paid, it’s different. Now, rap is a train that’s moving fast and a lot of people are seeing it as a way to get on and become famous. But all we want you to do is sit down and put some work in so the level and the degree of the art can stay up there. ‘Cause when you drop the bar really low and anybody can do it, it won’t be respected.

Check out a clip from The Art of Rap:

A.R. Shaw is an author and journalist who documents culture, politics, and entertainment. He has covered The Obama White House, the summer Olympics in London, and currently serves as Lifestyle Editor for Rolling Out magazine. Follow his journey on Twitter @arshaw and Instagram @arshaw23.

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