Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest (Sous-titres français)
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A Tribe Called Quest has been one of the most commercial successful and artistically significant musical groups in recent history. The band’s sudden break-up in 1998 shocked the industry and saddened the scores of fans, whose appetite for the group’s innovative musical stylings never seem to diminish. This insightful film, directed by Michael Rapaport, takes viewers on a behind-the-scenes journey - chronicling the group's rise to fame and revealing the stories behind the tensions which erupted in the years to come.
When a Tribe Called Quest emerged from Queens in the 1980s, there wasn't another hip-hop outfit that sounded exactly like them. Their unique mix of jazz, funk, and creatively conscious lyrics struck a chord, but 10 years later, they called it a day. In his first feature, actor/filmmaker Michael Rapaport, a native New Yorker, charts their history, celebrates their success, and tries to figure out what went wrong. He starts with their origins "on the boulevard of Linden" before turning to Phife Dawg's move to Atlanta and the Rock the Bells Tour, for which they reunited, only to fall apart again. The group members, including Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jabroni White, tell the story in their own words, while admirers, like De La Soul and the Roots, testify to their impact. With editorial assistance from director A.J. Schnack (Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns), Rapaport focuses on the relationship between Phife and Q-Tip, who share the same sort of yin and yang chemistry that has fueled legendary acts from the Beatles to Led Zeppelin. A "funky diabetic" in casual garb, Phife enjoys sports as much as music, while the dapper Q-Tip can't imagine doing anything else. The two have even differed over the film; while Phife has helped to promote it, Q-Tip has been publicly dismissive, but Rapaport is about as fair as a dispirited fan can be, and he concludes with an engagement in Japan where the two put their egos aside--at least for a few hours. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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A Tribe Called Quest are like the standard of greatness to me. They are my favorite music group. Outside of my friends and family I love them more than anything. When I think of great collaborating vocalists I put Q-Tip and Phife at the top of the pile. That includes John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, Andre 300 and Big Boi and Run and DMC. Their chemistry was so perfect that it just seemed like it was meant to be. I was a great fan of hip-hop. I was a total hip-hop junkie BEFORE they came out. Then Jungle Brothers came along - then De La Soul - then A Tribe Called Quest. I never knew that I could have such a deep appreciation for something until they flipped the script on the music paradigm.
Michael Rapaport did an amazing job. I am awestruck that the first choice for a feature length hip-hop documentary that played in movie theaters was made for A Tribe Called Quest. They sold millions of records but they never sold records like Eminem, Jay-Z, Tupac or Biggie (or quite a few other acts). Not even close. The choice of A Tribe Called Quest was a wise choice. Their influence has now spanned at least two generations of hip-hop. Every Tribe fan that I know is a die hard loyalist like myself.
I do not think that the "beef" did anything to tarnish their legacy. The documentary elevated them in my view. It seems like being in a band where you are around each other constantly is a great training ground for marriage. Eventually, you will perceive negatives in each other. Navigating those negatives and achieving a goal for the greater good is what a working relationship is all about.
I accepted the break up when it happened. I prepared myself for it beforehand. I always figured something that beautiful would never last. I grew up with their music. I started a successful business listening to their music. One of the first conversations that I had with my future wife was about A Tribe Called Quest. That conversation never ended. They taught me that details are important and to follow through on your vision.
A Tribe Called Quest - THANK YOU. Michael Rapaport - THANK YOU. To the entire Native Tongue family - THANK YOU. Listening to The Low End Theory for the first time remains the most exciting moment of my life. My wife knows that if I pass before she does - Can I Kick It? MUST be played at my funeral.
They turned me into someone who fought with his mind. One day (years after their break up) I was watching MTV and they were playing a Tribe performance of Can I Kick It? from 1998. My wife said that I was watching with a look of pain in my eyes. She lovingly rubbed my head and didn't say a word until the clip ended. I listen to their music all of the time. However, seeing them live was like reopening an old wound that never quite healed. This documentary completed the healing process for me.