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

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Michael Rapaport documents the inner workings and behind the scenes drama that follows this innovative and influential band to this day.


4 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Himself (as Malik Izaak Taylor aka Phife Diggy)
Ali Shaheed Muhammad ...
Himself (as Kamaal Fareed)
Jarobi White ...
Himself (as Ad-Rock)
Himself (as MCA)
Himself (as Questlove)
Andres Titus ...
Angie Martinez ...
Barry Weiss ...
Himself, CEO, Jive Records
Barbara Esmilla ...
Bobbito Garcia ...
Cheryl Taylor ...
Herself (as Cheryl Boyce-Taylor)
Himself (as Violatest)


Having forged a 20-year run as one of the most innovative and influential hip hop bands of all time, the Queens NY collective known as 'A Tribe Called Quest' have kept a generation hungry for more of their groundbreaking music since their much publicized breakup in 1998. Michael Rapaport documents the inner workings and behind the scenes drama that follows the band to this day. He explores what's next for, what many claim, are the pioneers of alternative rap. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

rap | hip hop | See All (2) »


Documentary | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »


Official Sites:

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Release Date:

19 January 2012 (Netherlands)  »

Also Known As:

Beats, rhymes & life  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$111,982 (USA) (8 July 2011)


$1,200,046 (USA) (11 November 2011)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Phife Dawg: But when it came to the black parties and the hip hop, once I saw them grab the mics and getting busy I risked my livelihood, getting kicked out of the house and everything just to be a part of it.
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Featured in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #1.24 (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

A pretty in depth, admirable glimpse into the world of a landmark group
10 October 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning

Acclaimed director and massive ATCQ fan Michael Rapaport delves into the origins and history of A Tribe Called Quest, one of the most pioneering, influential hip hop groups to emerge since rap burst onto the mainstream with Rapper's Delight in the late 70s/early 80s. Rapaport charts how the groups evolvement started when they met up as friends, to mix beats in their spare time, and how they tried to just be simple entertainment, in contrast to some of the more inflamatory, anti-authoritarian hip hop groups that went before them (as well as explaining the origins of their odd name) before catching up with them on their 2008 reunion tour, where member Phife Dawg has made a comeback after treatment for diabetes.

There doesn't seem to be an awful lot of variety in music these days, with everything pretty interchangeable from everything else, and a lot of new stuff not having the confidence to break away from what went before it and trying to branch out on it's own. So it's a shame that a lot of this samey music does contain a strong hip hop flavour to it, since we have a film here that tries to tell the story of a group from a time when rap was coming into it's own as an art form and spreading it's wings and flying in the charts. There was a genuine, truthful message either way to it, whether they be ardent political statements or just spreading a message of chilling out and getting down.

It's clear Rapaport's a fan, and there is a genuine air of passion and depth about his subjects. But, as is clear in any group of friends, they were obviously some conflicting personalities and, while they managed to work together as a group, tensions could and did inevitably combust back stage. While neither Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammed or Jarobi White exactly gave off a Tupac Shakur vibe about them, it's clear their 'street attitude' was still there and they weren't afraid to throw the f word around liberally. Still, ATCQ were hardly a group that especially glamourized the nastier things in life, while not exactly spreading a message of peace, just distracting the youth from getting into trouble with their funky, jammy beats.

As a suburban white kid (but quite a big fan) there are some aspects of the culture groups like ATCQ represented that will probably always be anathema to me, but that's not to say it's hard to see why groups like them became as successful as they did or grew the fan base they did. ****

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