Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest (2011)



Critic Consensus: This documentary focuses less on the music and more on the personality clashes and in-group tensions to great, compelling effect.

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Movie Info

A documentary film directed by Michael Rapaport about one of the most influential and groundbreaking musical groups in hip-hop history. Having released five gold and platinum selling albums within eight years, A Tribe Called Quest has been one of the most commercially successful and artistically significant musical groups in recent history, and regarded as iconic pioneers of hip hop. The band's sudden break-up in 1998 shocked the industry and saddened the scores of fans, whose appetite for the … More

Rating: R (for language)
Genre: Musical & Performing Arts, Documentary
Directed By:
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 18, 2011
Box Office: $1.2M
Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site


as Q-Tip

as Phife Dawg

as Ali Shaheed Muhammad

as Jarobi White

as Adam Yauch

as Mike D

as Adam Horowitz

as Pharrell Williams

as DJ Red Alert

as Prince Paul

as Large Professor

as Pete Rock and CL Smo...

as Barry Weiss

as Common

as Busta Rhymes

as Mary J. Blige
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest

All Critics (58) | Top Critics (25)

This authorized documentary is more of a celebration of the legendary Queens quartet than a serious exploration of their art. But considering how brilliant they were at their peak, it's hard to disagree with the general sentiment.

Full Review… | September 15, 2011
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Rapaport gets at the dynamics of a group that struggles even now to get along well enough to get paid - again.

Full Review… | August 9, 2011
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

Despite accusations of nearly succumbing to spotlighting beefs over beats, the film comes off as an honest representation of a great group that's not to be forgotten.

Full Review… | August 5, 2011
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

A combination of timing, access, a visual aesthetic that reflects ATCQ's Afrocentric "surface philosophy" (as the crew's look is described) and, most importantly, story-conscious editing elevates the doc above the norm.

Full Review… | August 5, 2011
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Thanks to a particularly even-handed job by director Michael Rapaport, the story emerges as compelling, even for non-fans in the audience.

Full Review… | August 4, 2011
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

The movie gets the beats and rhymes down pat, but the life part is a little messy. Oh well, two out of three ain't bad.

Full Review… | July 29, 2011
Detroit News
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest

A well-rounded, even documentary that provides the viewer with some insight to how people sometimes spawn dissension from what seems like nothing. There's nothing mindblowing here, but it's definitely an interesting watch, even if you're not a fan. You just might have a bit more appreciation for the contributions of the group to hip hop if you are.

Idrees Khan
Idrees Khan

Super Reviewer


'Beats, Rhymes and Life' does a great job of not only explaining the origins and history of A Tribe Called Quest, but also the influence that they had on hip-hop as a whole. The relationship between two leading members, Q-Tip and Phife, is fascinating to see on film, and Rapaport does a great job of capturing the brotherly relationship between the two band members. This documentary is not just for fans of ATCQ, but should be required viewing for all fans of hip-hop. Grade: B+

Sunny Dogra
Sunny Dogra

Super Reviewer


Music documentaries generally make cringe because they always seem to diminish any regard for the band in question. Beats, Rhymes and Life had the opposite effect on me. It was informative and comprehensive, not to mention very well made and has had the songs of A Tribe Called Quest stuck in my head for days afterward. A lot of the interviews are great but there are a few dipshits around. Interviewing Pharrell Williams before Prince Paul? Seriously...?!?!

Michael Gildea

Super Reviewer

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