|Index||9 reviews in total|
If you grew up with rap and were a fan when Tribe was in their prime,
you absolutely will not want to miss this. Michael Rapaport and crew
brilliantly document this most ubiquitous, inventive and also
accessible group of it's generation. I had to hold back the tears as I
revisited those special times of my youth. Being a rap fan and beat
maker since the 80's, I now know who was the man behind the productions
of their first three legendary(understatement) albums, as the credits
on their records always attributed production to the Tribe itself and
not one person(that person is Q-Tip). Not that Ali is not also an
incredible musician and producer in his own right as evidenced in his
post-Tribe super group Lucy Pearl and other production works. As for
Phife, you'll just have to see his remarkable story for yourself...
Speaking of Ali, one thing that really stayed with me, his statement about the spiritual and creative benefit of moving on, trying something new, not forgetting the past but working towards the future. In fact, this motto has been employed by all members of the Tribe beginning with Jarobi, who early in the 90's when the Tribe was on the rise decided to leave the group(albeit with an open door policy) to pursue another passion of his that has rewarded him success and happiness.
Many times our most celebrated creative heroes end up on a downward self destructive path and fall from grace, or they refuse to leave behind their formulas and habits at a detriment to their growth and their health, but these guys are champions in life, they are all leading rewarding lives doing some unexpected things, yet still make time to go on tour together. The time during which rap music was truly GREAT was short lived, maybe just a couple years....and it flashed past in the blink of an eye. This documentary will take you there, so much so you won't want to come back!
BTW I really, really, REALLY hope this isn't the last of Michael Rapaport's documentaries on Hip-Hop, clearly he is the man for the job.
I'm troubled that some reviewers object to the fact that this film
doesn't ignore the considerable tensions that existed within A Tribe
This is a documentary, not a propaganda film... the backstage dynamics between the members of ATCQ over the years (both positive and negative) are highly relevant to the film, assuming that it wasn't meant as a puff piece.
If anything, Rapaport held back a bit MORE than he should have, which is part of the reason why I don't give the film an even higher rating, as I would (for example) to the brutally revealing documentary Metallica: Some Kind of Monster.
Also, anyone who watches the film and doesn't get some sense of why the group meant so much to so many of us (in its artistry and in its spirit) just wasn't paying attention.
I do hope that the DVD extras spend more time on the extended Native Tongue Family... while it certainly isn't ignored in the film, the Native Tongue Family deserves at the very least its own mini- documentary.
A Tribe Called Quest is one the most enduring groups of hip hop's
Golden Age. Combining jazzy loops with hard-hitting snares and fronted
by two unique MCs/ personalities in Q-Tip and Phife Dawg, they banged
out three classic albums in the early 90s. They were intelligent,
innovative and had great chemistry. I can still vividly remember the
news that they broke up: it confirmed the end of rap's heyday, not
unlike The Beatles' break-up effectively ended the feel good 60s.
So yes, they deserved a 90-minute documentary. And "Beats, Rhymes and Life" delivers at this most basic level, telling us about the Tribe's travels in a very straightforward manner, which is good for (casual) fans. Michael Rapaport hits the right notes here: he cuts between classic songs, classic clips and solid - sometimes funny - anecdotes by the Jungle Brothers, Black Thought, Prince Paul, Jarobi, Dres, Common, De La Soul, Red Alert and Chris Lighty, to name a few. Q-Tip gets the most airtime, and the man has charisma to spare.
However, the story arc also aims to please non-fans and revolves around the break-up. It focuses heavily on the tensions within the group - especially between erstwhile best friends Q-Tip and Phife - and the drama that surrounds it until today. This setup helps avoid the dreaded "old men reminiscing about the good old days" effect found in many documentaries, but it still left me wondering: is this really the essence of the Tribe? We all know the group process can drive people crazy - we've seen it in a million rockumentaries. Meanwhile, the protagonists barely get to talk about the things that made them special: their creative vision, the development of their monumental sound, the risks they took.
Still, recommended for everybody, especially fans of Seaman's furniture. The music will win you over - Madlib's original soundtrack also rocks!
Three Hip-Hop groups defined the way I interfaced with Hip-Hop as a kid: The Jungle Brothers, De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest. Their music was the soundtrack of my youth: beats and rhymes with a positive, life-affirming vibe. To me, these groups were giants living amidst point guards; years later, when I interviewed a number of them for my Hip-Hop documentary 5 Sides of a Coin, I felt like I'd grown up, being allowed to stand face-to-face with many of my childhood idols.
I still love Hip-Hop, but nostalgia has a way of tempering things. It's been nearly 20 years since I've had an epiphanic Hip-Hop moment; the last one I remember was hearing 36 Chambers or Illmatic for the first time. Don't get me wrong, I still bump my head to a lot of what's out there...it just doesn't move me the same way it used to.
A few weeks back I watched Michael Rapaport's Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest and I was instantly reminded of Hip-Hop's significance in my life. Rapaport's film isn't shot on the best cameras or filmed by the most competent operators, but it really doesn't matter. This film was made by a Tribe fan for Tribe fans and whether it succeeds as therapy or mediation between Tip and Phife is irrelevant. If --somehow-- this doc has anything to do with ATCQ fulfilling their contractual obligation to produce one more album, then it's a monumental success; if not, it's still a great way for die-hard Tribe fans to reconnect with one of Hip-Hop's greatest groups.
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.
I enjoyed this film tremendously.
Beats, Rhymes and Life tells the story of a tremendous pioneer in the art form of Hip Hop and young men that grew up together as a creative entity. The ultimate success and longevity of any group is driven by the interpersonal relationship.
Micheal Rapaport shows the complexity of the personal relationships as the group matured and it's impact on the business.
I was a casual fan of "A Tribe Called Quest" going in ... I feel much more connected to the music and the group upon leaving the theater.
I highly recommend this film for anyone, casual or committed fan or if you've never heard of this group.
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. ****
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've always been a hip hop fan and was always interested in A Tribe
Called Quest. Before watching it, I knew a couple of their songs, but
not enough. I was hoping to leave the movie theater ending up a huge
Quest fan. Unfortunately, this didn't happen immediately, because the
documentary didn't focus on the music as much as I would have liked it
to. This movie did inspire me to do some research and about 3 weeks
later, I have learned pretty much everything about A Tribe Called
Quest. I was surprised about how much drama and how many problems
behind the scenes they had. Phife Dawg (the 2nd MC of A Tribe Called
Quest) suffers from diabetes and Q-Tip (the leader of A Tribe Called
Quest) "took the gym teacher approach with Phife" and that eventually
broke the group up. Q-Tip would push Phife into working-out and eating
right, but Phife couldn't get over his food/sugar addictions and he
resented Q-Tip for this. This resentment eventually escalates to the
point where they could not and should not stay as a group. If their no
love, they should split up. Unfortunately, Ali (a 3rd member of Quest)
was stuck in the middle of these arguments and just watch friendships
end. The story has an upsetting ending, but I now understand why the
group has broken up. A Tribe Called Quest was really a revolutionary
group for hip hop and they made incredible music.
Their are also a lot of interviews from producers and other hip hop artists/groups like: Common, De La Soul, Mos Def, and more.
The documentary also has a cool part where Q-Tip uses vinyl 2 turntables to create the beat for Can I Kick It? (their most popular song). I was very impressed with Q-Tip's creativity and intelligence.
First off, a big thank you to Michael Rapaport for doing this. And he
truly directed a wonderful documentary. I grew up on a tribe called
quest, however, I am an African,living in Africa and those were the
days before the Internet, so I really never heard any news surrounding
the group. This documentary fills in all these gaps for me, finally
made me understand what made ATCQ tick and such a brilliant hip-hop
group. The director really did a great job balancing the views from
both protagonists, Q-tip and Phife. Q-tip really comes across as a
musical genius and Phife as the real funky diabetic (never understood
this until watching this movie) and I had never heard Ali Shaheed
speak, but I was hanging on to every word of his. I think M. Rapaport
should have given Ali more time. And Jarobi, the y. Nice dude, from the
documentary I'd wish, he had not left the group when he did, he fitted
in just like anybody else.
Finally, the live shows were amazing. I wish I had had the opportunity to attend just one of them, anyway, if ATCQ ever come to Accra, Ghana, I'll be the first in line to buy tickets.
Great documentary, great story-telling from the director, highly recommended to any music lover out there.
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