Something From Nothing The Art of Rap


“It’s simple – it’s a love letter to hip-hop.” – Ice-T

‘Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap’ is a feature length performance documentary about Rap music. Taking the audience on a deeply personal journey, Ice-T uncovers how this music of the street has grown to dominate the world. Along the way Ice-T meets a whole spectrum of Hip-Hop talent, from founders, to new faces, to the global superstars like Eminem, Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg and Kanye West. He exposes the roots and history of Rap and then, through meeting many of its most famous protagonists, studies the living mechanism of the music to reveal 'The Art of Rap'. Directed by Ice-T and Andy Baybutt, produced by Paul Toogood, this extraordinary film features unique performances from the entire cast, without resorting to archive material, to build a fresh and surprising take on the phenomenon that is Rap.

“The result is a reverent, positive depiction of the talent and heart ever-present at the core of the hip-hop world.”

The Farm completed full post production on the two hour documentary. Keiran Smyth completed the film edit, whilst Aidan Farrell and Sonny Sheridan graded. The seminal rapper “presents it as a passion-fuelled craft while ignoring the bling and the superstardom.” The feature documentary was shot mainly on DVpro HD at 23.98, with approximately 100 rolls of S8mm.

The film has three distinctive parts; the first situated on the East Coast of America – New York, and the second on the West Coast – Los Angeles with Detroit in between. The brief for Aidan and Sonny’s grade was to keep this differentiation clear throughout the stylised piece; full of colour that compliments the genre. A cooler tone palette was set for the scenes from New York, to emphasise the distinct New York scene, whilst the LA footage kept the famous California sunlight glow. Overall the feature held a very saturated, stylised form that was a natural progression from East to West, aided by the S8mm transition footage.
The other textual element implemented by Aidan and Sonny was to use contrast between the East and West for the beautifully shot aerial footage of New York and LA. This tone replicated the honesty that is found in rap and hip-hop, thus keeping true to the genre. During the interviews, the backgrounds were defocused, putting the subject firmly in the light and focusing the audience’s attention on the subject. Blending the background off into defocus was a technique that was repeated throughout and enabled the content of the discussion to be highlighted, rather than their location.
“What is extraordinary is that the rapper is the last breed of professional writer who composes longhand, pen on paper – or maybe, when inspiration strikes, on the back of the hand. There are no laptops. We see them write out verses in very neat handwriting on yellow legal pads.”

Jamie Selway mixed the feature in Protools 10, creating an epic touch to the sound to represent the scale of the project. The viewer was immediately pulled above the clouds with the sound of a dramatic helicopter ride over the black background of the titles, and then visually taken over New York City with spectacular footage of the night sky.

Jamie’s involvement in the project and deep understanding of the music genre allowed him to work closely with the producer and director in selecting which tracks made it into this document of a very important and influential musical movement.

Senior editors, Del Shoebridge and Tim Ellison, onlined the feature in Symphony.

Post Production Supervisor – Karen Smith.