Ice-T

Rapper Ice-T looks into the origins of the rap game in his first film about the genre that made him a star. At the root of hip-hop are the impressive lyrics, crafted by master wordsmiths, that make up these songs and Ice-T gets to the bottom of what it takes to create these intricate rhymes. The title of the film suggests that rap came from nothing, but the truth is rap began when those without access to instruments turned to what they did have, the record player, and turned that into an instrument. Rap was a reinvention of this music, throwing rhymes and lyrics over the instrumentation rather than completely starting from nothing. As Grandmaster Caz states in the film, “Hip-hop didn’t invent anything, hip-hop reinvented everything” giving new life to these songs and bringing them to a new generation.

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Ten years ago the Law & Order franchise was the king of the cop show castle with the mother ship at the peak of its ratings dominance, Law & Order: SVU well into a successful third season and the new series Law & Order: Criminal Intent finishing up a successful freshman year. All seemed well in the world that Dick Wolf had birthed, but everything was starting to change. In the following ten years, the unstoppable force that was the mother ship series was cancelled after a hefty twenty-year run (had it gone on for one more season it would of surpassed Gunsmoke as the longest running scripted drama on television), Criminal Intent dropped in ratings and was forced to shift to the USA Network, new spin-off series Trial By Jury and Conviction were ratings bombs and the monstrosity of this past year known as Law & Order: LA was, well, a monstrosity. The only glimmer of hope the franchise had left lied in the hands of Benson, Stabler, Fin and the rest of the Special Victims Unit. The question is whether that’s a hope they should hold on to.

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This editorial contains spoilers for the season finale of Special Victims Unit so consider yourself warned. Before continuing with this piece I want you to take a long, hard look at the screencap below. Now sit back for a moment and take in everything that’s happening at that moment in time. Two dead bodies are on the floor, Olivia is over one and Elliot is over the other. Three dead bodies in the cage, Fin is on the phone trying to get EMS to the station, cops are running left and right trying to make sense of the chaos, and through it all we all know that we will return to the Special Victims Unit in September and it will be like nothing happened. But none of the characters in that moment will forget what they’re witnessing right now. And that’s the beauty of Law & Order: SVU and why it’s one of the standards of how to do episodic television the right.

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If a List of 10 Rap Artists that crossed over into film with varying degrees of success doesn’t seem timely, it should, because a movie about hardcore rappers came out just last Friday: Step Brothers.

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