Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap, a documentary directed by Ice T, debuted earlier this month in the States. Also released was a free Android and iOS mobile app, The Art of Rap, which allows users to rap over hip hop beats and share recordings of their efforts.
It's a nice approach to relating an app to a film by creating a participatory aspect rather than focusing on repurposed content. However claims that this could also be a platform for future superstar discovery seem a bit unlikely.
Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap has received mixed reviews but that's going to be the case with any hip hop documentary. Views of hip hop are so polarized both inside and outside hip hop communities that any attempt at serious dialogue quickly resembles a discussion about filesharing with people holding set positions and talking past each other. The Art of Rap mobile app is also receiving mixed reviews but those are less about ideology and more about how happy or unhappy they are with the apps functions and selection of tracks.
Here are the official features from the iTunes/iOS listing of the app. They also describe the process of using the app:
- Free beats to create your own flow! Unlock one using Augmented Reality and The Art of Rap Film poster.
- Record yourself over well known Hip-Hop covers from the store: Cypress Hill, MC Lyte and 2Pac.
- Once finished, mix your track for your very own demo.
- Create as many different mixes as you want.
- Check out other users and rate their flow.
- Share directly to Facebook and Twitter and on The Art of Rap web site.
- Create a profile for all your demos – record online at theartofrap.com and make a video, or check out Puresolo.com for more Hip-Hop tracks.
Currently the app offers two free beats and four classic tracks for purchase at .99. This seems a bit slim as some app reviewers have noted though it might make sense if there was an actual contest involved. It also seems to be missing the opportunity to sell more tracks. Of course, licensing issues may undercut the profitability of sales for an app that seems to be primarily a marketing tool.
"With the advent of social media, many artists have been discovered online and this provides a platform to discover another potential superstar."
While Kaplan's statement is technically true of any such platform, the fact that recordings made via The Art of Rap app aren't presented in an especially interesting way that draws listeners in to discovery undermines that likelihood.
Since there's no official competition, there's no official winner and no clear way for anyone to stand out. However, this might partly be a split between the mobile app, which is for rappers, and the apps section on the film's website, which is for everybody that's interested. Given that there's no rating system on the website, there's always the possibility that someone may eventually get extra recognition based on mobile rankings.
Until that day, The Art of Rap app seems like a smart promotional advice for folks that want to share their rap abilities perhaps inspired by the hip hop documentary Something From Nothing.
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) blogs about business at Flux Research: Business Changes and about dance at All World Dance: News. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.