As Emi Kolawole wrote, innovation and hip-hop have gone hand in hand since the genre’s beginnings.
It has been an interesting start to the week for hip-hop. It’s not every day that technology brings one of the genre’s most popular artists, Tupac Shakur, back to (virtual) life in front of a packed house and then reportedly sends him on tour. But hip-hop and innovation have gone hand-in-hand from the genre’s very beginning.
At least part of that history has been tackled by rapper and “Law & Order” star Ice-T, who made his directorial debut with the documentary “Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap,” in which he explores hip-hop’s creation and early evolution. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and is set for a theatrical release in June.
Based on the trailer and reviews of the film following its premier at Sundance, “Something from Nothing,” looks at not only the technological innovations in the genre, including the incorporation of the turntable and the latest in audio editing software, but the very act of creating the rhyme — an inherently innovative undertaking. During an interview with Billboard.com in January, Ice-T mentioned how queries about hip-hop rarely focus on its most basic element, how artists create rhymes.
In light of this, an exploration of hip-hop’s creation may be a good source of inspiration for anyone interested in fostering an innovation-rich environment. At its core, innovation is the creation of “something from nothing” — or at least from elements that no one had ever thought to combine before, whether it be the marriage of a rhyme and a new beat or the repurposing of a record player.
Now, let the record show, I am far from hip-hop’s biggest fan. I’ve found the frequent objectification of women in music videos and promotional materials to be, at best, unappealing and, at worst, blatantly offensive. But that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t take the opportunity, when possible, to look past the “parties and booties and girls,” in the words of Ice-T, and recognize the role the genre has played, and can continue to play, not only as a fertile seedbed for innovation and a partial reflection of American culture, but as an outlet for creativity and, ultimately, healing.
After a successful debut at Coachella there were reports that the Tupac hologram would go on tour. As Jen Chaney reported:
The hologram of deceased rapper
Tupac Shakur— conjured to perform alongside Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg during a Sunday night set at Coachella — might be going on tour. The Wall Street Journal reports that reps for both Dre and Snoop Dogg are in the process of planning a tour that would involve the almost-but-not-really reincarnated Tupac, whose digital likeness was generated by Digital Domain Media Group, the same company that youth-ified and aged
for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” If this actually succeeds, can we assume that a Nirvana reunion featuring an Obi-Wan version of Kurt Cobainis not far behind? (WSJ)
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