A Tribe Called Quest

As  I walked in to the already jam packed theater, and made my way to the only available seat in the second row, I knew what was about to happen, I just wasn’t sure the manor in which it would be showcased. The struggling relationship between Q-Tip and Phife Dawg is widely known, and its whereabouts are made known early on within the documentary, which tells the story of one of Hip Hop’s greatest acts while following them through their Rock The Bells tour in 2008. Before, Beats, Rhymes & Life was released it was made known by Q-Tip in December 2010, that due to Michael Rapaport’s choice of not giving the group producer roles, as well as final cut authority, he was not fully in support of the film.

At the beginning of the documentary it becomes apparent why the group may have wanted producer roles, as the first scene shows them stating reasons and points on why they will break-up. Serious scenes portray Tip most apparently exclaiming his grief for the situation eventually stating he is “too old for this…” and has had enough. After five minutes of screen time, you begin to wonder if the film will harp too much on the struggles of the legendary group, but soon after the first scene, all the worries are gone. Dropping into true documentary form, Rapaport takes us on a journey through the existence of A Tribe Called Quest, focusing our attention on all the positives, influences, experiences, and episodes these artists had together that catapulted them into center stage of the Hip-Hop world, pioneering a new sound for the popular new genre.

Rapaport, does a fantastic job in portraying what seems to be the blunt reality of the situation for the crew, exposing the true family aspect of the group, stressing how close each member of the group is to one another. By first showcasing this tight bond through descriptions of early success and shifting ideas for how to move forward as a group, the film succeeds in depicting a true and organic process of an extravagant career for a legendary Hip Hop collective, through explaining album concepts, tour stories and everyday life. Feuds occur, as we all know, and while the unstable dynamic between Phife and Tip is widely documented, the positive sentiments voiced by their peers, fans and most importantly each other, outweigh the rather dark moments of turmoil. If there is one thing to learn from A Tribe Called Quest, it is that representing who you are personally, and where you come from is more valuable than any other life goal, as this documentary does it’s best to justly and honestly depict the accurate and unedited lives of four members: Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Q-Tip and Jarobi. A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y.