Ice-T has a knack for getting people to open up to him. Apparently he's learned a lot from his character Det. Odafin "Fin" Tutuola on NBC's "Law & Order: SVU." This time though, Ice is behind the cameras as director and executive producer of the hip-hop documentary, "Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap."
He and his wife Coco were in Atlanta on Sunday night (June 10) to premiere the film to a crowd of hip-hop heads and industry tastemakers. A number of pioneers were also in attendance including DJ Red Alert and a few members of the Furious Five.
"This is like a love letter," Ice-T shared with the audience. "It's me giving back and hitting the 'reset' button on the game. Rap can rock a party but it can do a lot more."
The documentary starts in the birthplace of rap with a brilliantly shot overview of the Bronx. From Melle Mel to Afrika Bambataa, Ice-T guides the legends to speak on the genre's beginnings including the origin of the term "hip-hop." Artists like Immortal Technique, Nas and Q-Tip touch on battle techniques and the perception of the culture from an outsider's view. MC Lyte and Salt of Salt-n-Pepa describe what it means to create a distinctive voice and image as an artist.
As the documentary works its way through New York City over to the West Coast, the crew make a stop in Detroit to talk to Eminem about rhyme structure. Each segment is punctuated with a freestyle -- Grandmaster Caz and Joe Budden have two of the best verses along with Chino XL, Rakim and Yasiin Bey.
The film isn't limited to rappers considering many other figures outside of the artist realm have played a major role in rap's growth. While in New York, Ice-T sat with lauded producer DJ Premier to get his thoughts on the art of the genre. He then traveled to California to meet with another esteemed producer Dr. Dre. Doug E. Fresh was even consulted to offer the beatboxer's perspective.
Each contributor had a special story or anecdote to share based in the culture. From Run's hilarious tale of overindulgence to Dre's recollection of Tupac Shakur's studio rituals, the documentary had a few personal moments.
"I wanted to humanize rappers for the people on the sidelines," Ice-T revealed. "We're not one-dimensional."