Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest (2011)

5 Sep

During the nineties A Tribe Called Quest was one of hip hop’s biggest groups who had various hits like “Can I Kick It”, “I left my wallet in El Segundo” and “Scenario (feat. Busta Rhymes”. The group fell apart in 1998 but did get back together from time to time to do a show. They didn’t make any more albums. Michael Rapaport, who’s a big fan of hip hop, decided to make a documentary about the group, interviewing all the band’s members and capturing one of their performances during the Rock the Bells tour (which they did to support Phife Dawg as he needed money to treat his diabetes). This documentary goes back into their history, tells why they were so succesful, but also the reasons behind their breakup.

Although I’m a big hip hop fan myself I never really listened to them that much. I know their hits, but preferred to listen to other artists. There are a lot of people who did listen to them though and amongst them are some well-known musicians like Pharrell, the Beastie Boys and Kanye West who all tell about the impact their music has had on them.

The most interesting parts are those when the artists themselves are interviewed. It becomes clear that some have some deep-rooted frustrations and that the biggest friction is between Phife Dawg and Q-Tip. The cameras happened to be present when the two of them were arguing just before a performance which results in a tense situation and interesting viewing material.
Just like with the King of Kong documentary there is always someone who is painted as the “bad guy”, which in this case is Q-Tip. He’s shown to be a perfectionist who will change something to a song without discussing it with the rest of the group. It’s understandable that things like this have ultimately lead to the end of A Tribe Called Quest. It’s the dynamics of being in a band and sometimes seems inevitable as the documentary about Metallica, Some Kind of Monster showed. Q-Tip obviously didn’t like the way he is depicted in this film and is boycotting it.

Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest doesn’t only offer its viewers a look into the history and friction of the group, but also has some emotional moments once it focusses on the personal situation of Phife Dawg. The most beautiful moment comes when Phife Dawg’s wife is willing to do anything to save the life of her husband. If you are a big fan of this group it’s a documentary which you can’t miss, but even if you are not it’s something that’s worth watching.

Score: 8

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One Response to “Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest (2011)”

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  1. Beats, Rhymes, and Life: Not a Documentary, But An Irresponsible Disservice « From Ashy to Classy - 28 February 2012

    […] Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest (2011) (justdocumentaries.wordpress.com) […]

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