Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest (directed by Michael Rapaport) | 2011 | 98m | Spotlight | New York Premiere
After an brilliantly animated opening credits sequence, longtime actor and first-time director Michael Rapaport starts at the end, showing clips he shot of legendary New York hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest at the Rock the Bells tour in 2008, what they would deem their final performance. Utilizing talking head interviews by genre insiders (Common, Pharrell, Blackthought and Questlove of The Roots, De La Soul, Beastie Boys to name a few) explaining their influence and archival footage of Tribe during their rise to fame, Rapaport, clearly passionate about his subjects, has made a film that should appeal to both fans and those unfamiliar with this game-changing hip hop crew. Spending an ample amount of time on the beef between Phife and Q-Tip and Phife’s health issues, Beats, Rhymes & Life offers a cursory glance at ATCQ in their prime and could have benefited from longer sequences featuring the actual music and how it was created. It’s hard to fault Rapaport, because while he does achieve a clear feeling of nostalgia and joy with this work (it’ll undoubtedly make you think about why there aren’t more documentaries made about hip hop), there is a lingering concern that he focuses too much on the petty drama between the group’s members.