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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.


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

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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:

| |  »



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
See  »

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

The rise & fall of one of the most prolific hip hop groups
22 August 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

If you haven't heard of A Tribe Called Quest where the heck have you been for the last twenty years arguably one of the most respected and commercially successful groups in hip hop's rich history the band were composed of Q-Tip (Kamaal Ibn John Fareed), Phife Dawg (Malik Taylor), DJ Producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White. The group have been widely lauded as the saviours of hip hop along with the other members of the Native Tongues Posse which comprised of a group of like minded individuals who talked, walked and rhymed with the same attitude. Quests was the most commercially successful group from this self proclaimed troupe and have influenced many of hip hop's most prevalent artists of today which include Kanye West & Common. The tale of their meteoric rise to the forefront of hip hop had never chronicled until actor, director and self confessed fan Michael Rapaport picked up a camera and filmed the group's headlining of the Rock the Bells concerts across America in 2008. It's the footage behind the scenes however and the account of the group's inception that gives an insight into the groups break up in 1998.

This movie is a testament to a group that changed the parameters of hip hop for a whole generation, not concerned with the gangster rap of the period a Tribe Called Quest like their Native Tongues associates were more interested in the eclectic music and intellectual styled lyrics. The movie has interviews with some of the other members of the Native Tongues movement and many other notable hip hop artists including the Beastie Boys and Common who give credence to the music that Tribe produced. The camera gives an unnerving and sometimes brutally honest look into the lives of the young men from New York who made up the group.

The last true American art from after jazz, hip hop with its turntables as instruments is an analogy for America its mesh of cultures and beliefs, creeds and colours which brought about a collective superiority unrivalled in any other music form. I cannot speak with enough enthusiasm about how great this movie is as a documentation of a nostalgic time within hip hop when it was still new, fresh and effervescent. A time when four guys from the New York boroughs came together and created something truly amazing that has, and most likely will stand the test of time. Bittersweet in many parts but filled with a vibrant energy that encompassed everything that was and remains still true to the tribe and everything they stood for.....real innovative, engaging and thought provocative hip hop that defined a generation and spurned a new talented group of hip hop artists and producers that occupy the mainstream today.

I cannot speak with enough enthusiasm about how great this movie is as a documentation of the story behind the genius that was a Tribe Called Quest and Rapaport has excellently captured the lives and troubles of real people fraught with human frailties and insecurities like you and me. There is so much drama here that all is needed at times is for Rapaport to simply point the camera and shoot and like a confessional the group members and the people in their lives outpour their feelings. This thereby humanises their tale so that it resonates with every single one of us. Some of the groups most profound thoughts and feelings are captured for the first time which makes this movie simply riveting from start to finish and with the foot tapping soundtrack from the group's back catalogue the movie is like a chronicle of not just the groups fantastic rise but also a generation crying out for music of worth. One of the most memorable lines of the movie comes from Phife Dawg who states "the way hip hop is going right now I could do with it or without it" this sentiment is echoed as the story unfolds and we reminisce on a time when we were growing up and life was simpler than it is right now. Perhaps that is its appeal it has something for us all and in its most ardent revelations it almost shakes the foundations of hip hop. If I haven't suitably summed up the need for you to see this movie then perhaps my highest rating yet will encourage you 4 ½ out of 5 this movie is a must see, not just for lovers of A Tribe Called Quest & hip hop......but for anyone concerned with the inner machinations of a musical groups highs and lows. Beats, Rhymes and Life is due a release later in the year and when it gets a date I'll be the first to give you the heads up.

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