Ice-T has extended his reach over nearly every facet of the entertainment industry. He's an accomplished rapper, with a 1991 Best Rap Performance Grammy in his possession. He's starred on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" since the second season (it was just renewed for a 14th season last month) and he's acted in a bunch of films, including "New Jack City." And last year, Ice-T released his memoir.
But the Newark-born musician had never directed a film - until now. In his documentary, "Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap," which opens in theaters on Friday, Ice-T chats with a ton of rappers about their craft.
amNY spoke with Ice-T, 54, about the film.
Why make a hip-hop documentary? I always wanted to direct films ... That was in one side of my brain. And I'm watching hip-hop and I'm seeing it become a little pop. And I'm thinking ... a lot of the people [don't] even know where it came from. I just didn't think people respected rap as an art form. This might be the right time to do a movie.
Were people eager to be in the film? I started calling my friends and said I wanted to do a film. I said I didn't want to talk to them about the money, the cars, the beat, none of that - just the craft. And everybody was like, "Nobody ever asks us those questions."
What did you learn from making the film? I learned that making movies is hard. I learned that it's different then making a record. It's a lot of work. It's a lot of people. My son was out there with me, and Coco. It's just a lot of work making a movie, especially a low-budget indie where you don't have that huge staff. Next time, hopefully I'll have more movie! I won't have to do anything! One of the cool things about the film is when the film comes on, you see the credits -- it ain't a lot people.
What do you think about the hip-hop scene now? It's oversaturated. When we did it, you got a bunch of kids rapping - nobody was getting any money so it was really, truly something fun to do. [Now] kids are looking at rappers with a lot of money [and] they want to rap because they see it as a way to get paid
What sort of response has the movie gotten? The response has been incredible. We only wanted to get to [the] Sundance [Film Festival]. The movie got bought the first day.
Is it warming people's hearts that you've brought back some of the early rap stars? I think it's warming hip-hop's heart, not just mine. It's my way of giving back. I want the culture to be proud of me.