“The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five is by far one of the most important records known to man. A “total knock out of the park” as Public Enemy’s Chuck D once told Rolling Stone, the 1982 record marked a pivotal moment for hip-hop. The first of its kind, at seven-minutes rapper Melle Mel and co-writer Duke Bootee traded clear-cut lines about the everyday struggle and decay in America’s ghettos. From the ubiquitous “broken glass” to the “junkies in the alley” and how the kids that are “born with no state of mind” end up succumbing to the live fast, die young statistic. It’s an monumental piece of recording that perfectly demonstrates the foundation on which hip-hop was founded.
Beyond that though, it’s also the very record that Mickey Bentson, co-founder of The Universal Zulu Nation, and Ice-T brought up during a phone conversation with REVOLT. “Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel made one of the hardest records ever: “The Message” with no cursing. Wow. That’s unbelievable,” Bentson exclaimed. “Where you gonna get all this stuff at? Nowhere but at the Art of Rap Festival baby.”
In 2012, Ice-T chronicled the rich foundation and importance of the hip-hop into a one hour-and-a-half epic, better known as the critically-acclaimed documentary, “Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap.” An intimate journey that uncovers the layers, elements, and science of hip-hop, the film took it back to the essence, while bringing along famous faces like Dr. Dre, Kanye West, Eminem, Q-Tip, Chuck D and many more for a discussion on the art form. Three years since he opened the conversation, Ice-T, joined by Bentson, has added another layer (and new meaning) to the “The Art of Rap,” with an inaugural event he is calling “the most prolific and essential hip-hop festival ever.”
The Art of Rap Festival, which will take place over the course of two days in California, features a dream team line-up of emcees that range from Big Daddy Kane to Rakim, Afrika Bambaataa, EPMD, Doug E. Fresh, Grandmaster Melle Mel, King T, Kurtis Blow, Biz Markie, and more. Just like the film, the festival, which will feature co-headliners including Game and Ice-T at its July 18th Irvine date and Ice-T at the July 19th Mountain View show, takes it back to the essence.
Speaking about the summer must-attend festival, Ice-T and Mickey Bentson hopped on the phone with REVOLT and discussed just how and why this event came together.
In 2012, Ice-T, you released this film and now it has transformed into a full blown festival. How did you two come together for this?
Ice-T: Well, [The Art of Rap] happened for me, I was sitting around and for a while when you would say you an emcee, people actually had this heavy respect for you. Well the point that when you would say ‘rapper,’ people would kind of look at you like a clown. Rappers were kind of acting up and I didn’t like that, so I said you know what I want to make a film that makes people really respect the art of rap. It’s not a game, it’s real stuff. I worked really hard on my music, I grew up with [Big Daddy] Kane and Rakim and people like that, and I said this is serious business. So we shot the film, it did what it was supposed to do, make people understand that it is an art form and the next obvious move was to take it on the road. The Art of Rap Tour is meant to be about the craft and the culture of hip-hop, so we go all the way from The Soulsonic Force to somebody like The Game.
As you mentioned, this festival is about the craft and culture. Why is this such an important element for this event?
T: We want people to take pride in what they do. If you take pride in your music, you’re going to do good music. If you look at music as just a way to get paid, then you might throw up any ol’ shit, and you also ain’t gonna represent it right, [because] when you get interviewed you gonna say any ol’ s*** — and that bothers the artists. That’s like me coming into jazz and not knowing who Miles Davis was, and there’s going to be people who’s going to have feelings about that. Continue reading “Ice-T Breaks Down Why “Art of Rap” Festival in July is Important to Hip-Hop, Art and Music”