Actor, comedian and now filmmaker Michael Rapaport has much to stay about his debut documentary, Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest.

Words and Interview: Aimstar
Shot and Directed by: William Crump for Crump Films

A first of it’s kind, Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest (Sony Pictures Classics) journeys through the ups and downs of the beloved Hip-Hop group that set the stage for “back-pack” rap, the conscious movement of the ’90s and without sounding too cliché, the group that changed the game. From the perspective of all four members (albeit individually and never interviewed together as a group)—Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi—the squad who gave life to the legendary Hip-Hop crew, the Native Tongues—movie watchers will gain insight into the inner workings of what sparked ATCQ’s ascension in the early days of their career and what many curious die-hard fans are wondering about—the ultimate reason behind their disbandment.

While the film does do a great job at documenting the scene, the group’s come-up and their relationships with one another as well as with their colleagues in the biz (from former manager turned Jive Records exec Chris Lighty to the members of De La Soul and other Hip-Hop notables including Monie Love, The Beastie Boys, Common, Large Professor and Pharrell Williams), the film spends the bulk of its running time on the famed beef between the group’s leading members, Q-Tip and Phife Dawg, instead of the music itself. As if the conflict behind the scenes wasn’t enough, the film picks at the core of the dilemma for all to see (whether it reopens the sore or simply shows us a glimpse of it is another question), a view troubling for even the most cynical Hip-Hop head.

Whether on tour, working solo or lamping in their respective cities, what’s most interesting about the film is that it schools you on the importance of A Tribe Called Quest to the Hip-Hop sphere. What’s saddening is that even with one more album due to their home label, after watching the film it is still unclear whether the group will ever get it together to produce another classic album fans have been desperately fiending for (for over a decade). The film’s main coup might just be the very fact that everyone who’s anyone has been talking about and covering the controversy surrounding just how unhappy the crew is about the end product. Sure it could be PR101, the hype being a way to get fans (new and old) back into theaters today when the doors official open to watch the film (Did I mention that Rapaport’s company and ATCQ share equal profits from the film?). Either way, it’s a must see, at the very least to pay homage to a group that forced Hip-Hop to be as diverse as it is today. Now that’s something…

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