21 Jul 2012

Ice T and the history of hip hop

The godfather of gangsta rap, Ice T, talks to us about his progression to rap music and his new documentary film charting the history of hip hop.

Rapper Ice T has launched a new documentary film in which describes the origins of hip hop.

“Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap” explores the intricacies, history and culture of rapping in the words of hip hop stars – friends of Ice T himself.

He came to Channel 4 News to tell us about the film and why he was making it.

“Rap has been around long enough now that people that enjoy it may not know the origin of it, so I said ok – maybe I should do a documentary.”

On the origins of hip hop

“Hip hop is the culture, rap is the vocal delivery. Hip hop comes from the south Bronx. It’s a youth movement that started in Bronx River Project, and it’s an anti-violence culture which was based on the kids in the project who were having a lot of trouble.

“With the invention of the DJ mixer kids in the Bronx found out they could play just the break downs of records and create a real nice vibe to have a party.”

On hearing “Rappers Delight” for the first time

I was in the army at the time, I knew something was going on in New York called rap but I still hadn’t heard it. Then all of a sudden this record came out called “Rappers delight” and anyone who heard rap was blown away.

“I was like “I could do that” – I tried to do it immediately, but I wasn’t that good.”

I was a gangsta”

“Ever rapper took it in their own direction. I took it down the gangsta road. I invented gangsta rap.


“Because I was a gangsta.

[But you were a soldier?]

“But after that I started robbing banks.”

On modern versions of rap music

“Once something becomes popular culture it will be co-opted. It will happen, it will be in the news it will be all over the place. There’s nothing you can do about it.

“It’ll never be as real as it was in rawest forms as it was when it was being created. But now it’s everywhere – it’s in potato chip commercials.”

On making films

“I want to do features now, this was just my first step in. I want to be the black Quentin Tarantino or the black Guy Ritchie.

“I want to do action adventure films, little crime in there – I gotta little experience in that, so we’ll throw that in.”