Parents' Guide to

Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Fantastic hip-hop documentary has profanity, some drug use.

Movie R 2012 112 minutes
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Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 1 parent review

age 13+

Outstanding storytelling!

This movie is a fascinating insight into the origins and history of rap and the era where it emerges. The movie made Sundance in 2012. Ice-T made it because all that he had to express wouldn't fit in a song. This is a great movie and great as a role model, IMO at least as inspiring for kids living in poverty in America as footballers inspire kids in slums in Brazil or Olympic runners inspire kids in Sub-Saharan Africa. Note that I'm Swedish-Portuguese so I don't veto movies based on the appearance of swearing and/or sex and/or drugs if they are coherent appearances in a meaningful context which is the case here. Though I certainly and enthusiastically veto any movie (or video game) that makes abundant use of guns and gore for entertainment sake, irrespective of its heart-numbing effects. I disagree with the 16+ rating. I would give it 13+. This is an important, genially framed and very well crafted socio-historic tale told from the attractive frame of "the art of rap", which is probably what validated its selection for Sundance.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

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Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap somehow manages to be both a nearly comprehensive history lesson in hip-hop and a study in the creative processes of the genre's most famous practitioners. It's a celebration of hip-hop's past and present, as well as a vigorous defense against those who still deny that rap is as much of an art form as jazz and blues. Entertaining and enlightening, Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap is a must-see not just for hip-hop fans, but for music fans, period.

The only small problem with this documentary is the problem that plagues any documentary that attempts to be an overview of a musical genre: There's only so much information that can be given in so little time. This movie could have easily been four hours. While much is covered in under two hours, hip-hop's contributions from Atlanta, Miami, and Chicago are hardly mentioned, to say nothing of the Beastie Boys. But, to be fair, such additions would probably send this into six-hour Ken Burns territory.

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