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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as Phife Dawg
as Ali Shaheed Muhammad
as Jarobi White
as Adam Yauch
as Mike D
as Adam Horovitz
as Pharrell Williams
as DJ Red Alert
as Prince Paul
as Large Professor
as Pete Rock and CL Smooth
as Barry Weiss
as Busta Rhymes
as Mary J. Blige
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Critic Reviews for Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest
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.
Rapaport gets at the dynamics of a group that struggles even now to get along well enough to get paid - again.
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.
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.
Thanks to a particularly even-handed job by director Michael Rapaport, the story emerges as compelling, even for non-fans in the audience.
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.
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.
'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+
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