Directed by Michael Rapaport
It’s not often that the worlds of popular music and popular film get to intersect, especially when it comes to the world of hip-hop and rap music. Out today at the Yonge & Dundas AMC in Toronto is a passionate film that brings those two worlds together and is bound to make a lot of moviegoers very happy this long weekend. It’s time to watch Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels Of A Tribe Called Quest.
Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels Of A Tribe Called Quest brings us along with lifelong fan Michael Rapaport as he sets out on tour with A Tribe Called Quest in 2008, when they reunited to perform sold-out concerts across the country, almost ten years after the release of their last album, The Love Movement. As he travels with the band members, Rapaport captures the story of each band member and of how tenuous their relationship has become; how their personal differences and unresolved conflicts continue to be a threat to their creative cohesion, specifically Q-Tip and Phife Dawg. When mounting tensions erupt backstage during a show in San Francisco, we get a sense of what is at stake for these long-time friends & collaborators in this intimate look at the band that many deem to be the pioneers and one of the most influential hip-hop acts of all time.
In his first feature length outing as a director, Michael Rapaport does a skillful and balanced job at bringing us the bands story. His passion for the material is obvious and it comes through it his work, not only with interviews with the band but also in discussions with musical contemporaries ranging from De La Soul all the way the Questlove from The Roots. He also paints a very even portrait for what is essentially a fan documentary, no single member of the band is painted in a ‘hero’ image, these 4 men are simply human beings. The arguments that stem from Q-Tip’s drive to perfectionism and Phife’s insecurities in regards to his battle with diabetes and his place in the band are fascinating, because you never feel like this isn’t anything other than a fight between family members who love each other. The film does highlight their personal problems along with going in-depth with the other two members of the group Jarobi White and Ali Shaheed Muhammad and what the in-fighting ultimately is doing to them as well. It’s rare to see two side of an argument presented so even handedly when we know without a doubt that both sides are wrong.
Rapaport‘s chronologically takes us through the music song by song and album by album showing the audience how their relationship and interactions truly mirrored the music. As one of the few films ever released on the subject of rap music and its history, Tribe is given their appropriate reverence in musical history without unnecessarily placing them on a pedestal.
When it comes down to it; Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels Of A Tribe Called Quest is an entertaining look at the history and inner workings of not only the music, but the musical family known as A Tribe Called Quest. It’s a very entertaining film, that doesn’t hinge on the viewer liking the music, and it’s hands down my pick of the week.
4 out of 5 stars.
Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels Of A Tribe Called Quest opens today at the AMC Yonge & Dundas, click here for showtimes.
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