Beginning this Friday, October 12th, Portland's Northwest Film Center will kick off their 30th annual Reel Music Film Festival, with an impressive line-up that exclusively features musically-oriented cinema. Most events will take place in Southwest Portland's Whitsell Auditorium, and will showcase films dealing with musical issues, the relationships between image and audio and everything in between. One central goal in the festival is to present films that bring audiences closer to people who were and are the forces behind their favorite kinds of music.
"Something From Nothing," Ice-T's 2011 documentary about hip-hop does exactly that, as he takes us coast to coast tracking down the hottest names in the industry in search of the true essence of what it means to be a part of the rap and hip-hop world. This film brings the audience into the homes, minds and studios of such household names as Grandmaster Caz, Snoop Dogg, Run & DMC (Run-DMC), Q-Tip (from A Tribe Called Quest), Dr. Dre, Eminem, Kanye West, and many, many more.
Take a peek at the trailer for the film, below.
All of Ice-T's interviews with the artists yield results that are at times hilarious, at others truly thought provoking. He never seems uncomfortable, always ready to jump into conversations that range anywhere from quips and jibes about personal style and appearance, to serious debates about race and economic inequality. What is most striking is the way that each artist bringing a fresh perspective to the film, riffing off of Ice-T's infectious curiosity and obvious devotion to music.
Indeed, the film itself flows like the music it is portraying, mixing the tales of all the hip hop greats with beautiful cinematography and classic clips from songs that lie dormant in even the least avid listener's musical vocabulary.
By the time the credits roll around, the audience is not presented with a neatly packaged definition of what "the art of rap" really is. Rather, we learn that it's so much more than just a style of music. "Rap is not pop, if you call it that then stop" (Q-Tip). "Rap is folk art" (Mos Def). But what we really learn is that rap and hip-hop are part of a greater cultural experience, that somehow goes beyond the rhymes, the beats, the hooks and the melodies. It's an art form that says so much about who you are, and that has, historically, given a voice to those who have a story that they need to tell.
"Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap" screens Friday October 12th at 9:15 p.m. at the Whitsell Auditorium. You can buy tickets for individual films at the door, or click here to buy a festival pass. Enjoy!