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AUSTIN, TX, United States
a lot of MUSIC, FREEDOM, CULTURE and a little of everything else

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Los Angeles rapper-turned-actor Ice-T made his solo album debut in 1987 with Rhyme Pays, waxing poetic with his pimp philosophies and hustler hijinks. While west coast crime scenes became the basis for Ice-T’s cinematic tales of fun and violence in the sun, the crafty veteran was always searching for other ways to challenge his artistic temperament. Flipping the script in 1991, Ice starred as a cop in the classic crack-era film New Jack City, and proceeded to establish yet another pimpin’ path that today includes various films, a regular gig on NBC’s Law & Order: SVU and the E! reality show Ice Loves Coco with his pinup-worthy wife, Nicole “Coco” Austin.

Now Ice is stepping behind the camera, making his directorial debut with The Art of Rap (Indomina Media), a documentary about hip-hop’s continuous rise in popularity. Ice gets personal with his lyrical peers, who reveal their own process of transforming life into a perfect blend of street swagger, urban poetics and pop-culture success. The film, which received positive reviews at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is scheduled to hit theaters nationwide June 15.

Turn the mic up.

What was the motivation behind making this film?

ICE-T: I have a sincere love for hip-hop. Hip-hop had a lot to do with getting me out of trouble and putting me in the position I am in today. I’m totally aware of its power. With artists like Public Enemy, Queen Latifah, Ice Cube, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, KRS-One, the music was able to change the world. This film is my way of giving back to hip-hop. When I came into rap, I came from L.A. and kind of had to come and bow down to the Zulu Nation and have them co-sign me to get into rap. There were times if you weren’t from New York City and you didn’t have the right connections, you couldn’t rap.

Was that when you started working with Zulu member DJ Afrika Islam?

I was introduced to the Zulu Nation where hip-hop started, in the Bronx. They taught me that hip-hop required skill. If you wanted to be the DJ, the breakdancer, a graffiti artist, you don’t want to be a toy, you want to be a bomber. You want to be respected for your skills. But more recently, I started seeing this art form that I love becoming diluted, because once you take the skill level out of it, hip-hop just becomes a joke.

What do you want the audience to learn?

The passion and respect that should be connected to hip-hop, that’s really what I want. Ninety percent of the new rappers, they got skills, they can rhyme, but they don’t have any real guidance. But, there are 10 percent who don’t give a fuck, and it’s a joke to them. It’s about whatever they gotta do to get money. That is poisoning hip-hop. To some people, hip-hop is symbolic, like a church. If you say something bad about rap, muthafuckas want to fight. I hope my film helps hit the reset button on the hip-hop scene. I want to make the old-timers feel good and show the new kids where it’s been so they know where it should go.

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