Ice-T at Sundance, Photos by Jonathan Hickerson.

Sundance Film Festival is underway and one of highly anticipated documentaries at the scene is “Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap: co-directed by Ice-T and Andy Baybutt. Taking a look at rap’s evolution including insider interviews with some of the best over the past 30 years including NAS, Dr. Dre, Run DMC, Chuck D, Eminem, Mos Def, IceCube, and Snoop Dogg, this film is already causing waves in music and youth culture globally. To celebrate the debut, Ice-T participated in the “Celebration of Music in Film” at Sundance’s Music Café with Chuck D and Grandmaster Caz.

The fact that Ice-T tracked down top rappers over the past 3 decades adds serious cred to the documentary that in essence shows how a new music culture redefined an entire generation. During the Q&A post show, Ice-T also broke out in impromptu rap to answer people’s questions which showed true skills of the master rapper.

While most of Sundance is of course about independent film, the Film in Music Program portion which has been going on for years now, highlights the importance of music in film and vice versa. When it comes to independent music and art in film, Ice-T knows the scoop. He described his frustration with the current music scene, “New artists are caught in a paradigm,” he explained. “There is no underground because of the Internet… the Internet now means free,” which has created an economic pressure on music production. He added, “The new artist is now forced to produce stuff for the radio. You’re limited with content.”

Ice-T performs at Celebration of Music in Film at Sundance Music Cafe.

Ice-T connected today’s disillusioned youth, the mass consumers of radio fluff, with his own son and how by providing his son with a life of privilege, he has disconnected his son from reality. “How can he rap about what I rapped about when he hasn’t lived it?” He pleaded with today’s rappers to “look at the conditions around you. You’ve got a black president, you’ve got sub-prime situations, you’ve got unemployment, you’ve got a fucking war.”

Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap marks American history through a musical story that taps into how this genre came about to begin with, and insightful interviews of the leaders in the movement tracing it back to its roots. According to Ice, something from nothing means “a music that’s born from a situation that was kind of raped of music, or removed of music. It’s kind of like if you go to some war-torn country and you see a kid sitting on a corner with a couple of sticks beating on the bottom of a pot—you can’t stop the music. Music is eternal. They’ll figure a way to make music.”

Ice-T pushed the context beyond rap. “Music as a whole is delusional. If you listen to pop music right now you’ll think life is perfect. Life is fucked up right now.” However, Ice-T sees a light at the end of the tunnel, “We’re in the Ice Age, but I think this shit is going to open up. I’m looking for a 19-year-old Rage Against the Machine, a 19-year-old Public Enemy, a 19-year-old Ice-T, 19-year-old NWA.”