Sunday, 24 March 2013

15 Second Review: The Art of Rap

Anyone who loves rap will be excited at the prospect of  this documentary. Heavyweight director Ice-T uses his  net of connections to amass a host of rap grandmasters including MC Lyte, Q-tip, Eminem, Dr Dre, and KRS-One. At its best, the documentary provides a forum for these rappers to discuss their origins and techniques. It also allows these rappers to exchange personal anecdotes, which is probably the most interesting aspect of the film. For example, hearing about Ice-T's stage tricks (including using front row fans as a kind of auto-cue) is worth thirty seconds of anyone's time.
However, much of the documentary is comprised of the guest stars rapping to camera (often reciting passages from their favourite tracks by other artists). After a while, that repeated trope begins to wear a little thin. While there is some commentary on different styles, the discussion remains vague and surface-level. Perhaps this is partially because the commentators are masters: they already understand the intricacies, and so take the process for granted. What remains is a host of rappers essentially declaring that rap is difficult and is misunderstood by outsiders. Yet the film offers no bridge for any outsiders wishing to learn, or any tangible evidence of precisely why rap is difficult. Consequently, this documentary preaches to the converted, and feels a little self-congratulatory. Given that the talent aggregated here is unparallelled in the field, it all feels like a wasted opportunity, and that is a real shame.

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