Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)
Ice T has had a successful career both in music and movies and last year he created something that involved both. He made a documentary called Something Out of Nothing: The Art of Rap, which is now available in DVD from Feltrinelli. Ice T interviewed a number of his fellow artists in New York, Los Angeles and Detroit. In L.A., for example, he talked to KRS One, who gave some historical background:
KRS One (African American accent)
Some MCs get their notoriety through battling, meaning that back in the days, we used to call it “the dozens,” slaves were sold one by one, unless there was a defect: their leg was hurt, her arm was... severed, mental issues, maybe sick. Those people were sold... in a dozen, so slaves would start going back and forth with each other, saying, “Well, your head’s bigger than your neck, and that makes you a lollipop! Ah-ah-ah! Your mother is so this, I could do that! Ah-ah-ah!” And everybody would laugh at you, and then eventually it became the dozens. So the idea of battling, coming out of this tradition called the dozens, where you verbally attack your opponent and your opponent verbally attacks you until somebody breaks down, and either wants to fight, cries, whatever it is, or... or a judge deems the battle won by either opponent. This trickles over into rapping. It was Zulu Nation that first brought up the idea of “We don’t have to shoot at each other or beat on each other, or... or this, we can actually use this tradition of the dozens to actually have verbal warfare through art.