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

Critics Consensus

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



Reviews Counted: 59

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,007


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 4.2/5

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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 group's innovative musical stylings never seems to diminish. A hard-core fan himself, Rapaport 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. -- (C) Sony Classics

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as Q-Tip
Phife Dawg
as Phife Dawg
Ali Shaheed Muhammad
as Ali Shaheed Muhammad
Jarobi White
as Jarobi White
Adam Yauch
as Adam Yauch
Mike D
as Mike D
Adam Horovitz
as Adam Horovitz
Pharrell Williams
as Pharrell Williams
DJ Red Alert
as DJ Red Alert
Prince Paul
as Prince Paul
Large Professor
as Large Professor
Pete Rock and CL Smooth
as Pete Rock and CL Smooth
Barry Weiss
as Barry Weiss
as Common
Busta Rhymes
as Busta Rhymes
Mary J. Blige
as Mary J. Blige
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News & Interviews for Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest

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

All Critics (59) | 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.

    Sep 15, 2011 | Full Review…
  • Rapaport gets at the dynamics of a group that struggles even now to get along well enough to get paid - again.

    Aug 9, 2011 | Rating: 3/4
  • 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.

    Aug 5, 2011 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Aug 5, 2011 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Thanks to a particularly even-handed job by director Michael Rapaport, the story emerges as compelling, even for non-fans in the audience.

    Aug 4, 2011 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jul 29, 2011 | Rating: B | Full Review…

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


If you're a huge fan of Tribe you will wet your pants watching this. If you're just a regular hip-hop fan like me it's aight, fun enough. You get a playful, frank, intimate look into their origins, rise, and fall, and into the relationships between the members and particularly the tension between the brilliant, messianic, somewhat oblivious Q-Tip and the headstrong, straight-talking, more human and relatable Phife Dawg, whose close childhood friendship and complementary talents generate much of the energy and vibe of the band, but whose irreconcilable differences ultimately lead to the demise of the group.

Letitia Lew
Letitia Lew

Super Reviewer

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
Michael Gildea

Super Reviewer

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