Beats, Rhymes, and Life: The Travels Of ATCQ *REVIEW*
The highly anticipated documentary Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest hit select theatres last weekend and I had the pleasure of viewing at the Midtown Arts Cinema. Directed by Michael Rapaport, most memorable as “Remy” the crazy skinhead in Higher Learning (1995), the film stars all members of the infamous legendary hip-hop group, providing a first-hand account of the origin, creative process, camaraderie, trials and success of ATCQ.
Rapaport’s directorial debut gives an authentic feel by allowing group members to give their testimonies. Q-Tip (Kamaal Ibn John Fareed) comes through clear as a creative genius, producing countless tracks and revealing his musical influences while leading a group and discovering his solo sounds. Jarobi (Jarobi White), affectionately dubbed “the spirit” of ATCQ, a free spirit who felt restricted by the commercial aspects of the business but possess a deep love for hip-hop and Tribe. DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad is the peaceful, neutral, passionate producer (and who knew how sexy?!), always willing to work and make beautiful music. The fourth element, Phife Diggy (Malik Taylor), is arguably the more outspoken (aside from Q-Tip), headstrong and rawly talented, yet his personal struggles served as conflict. Interesting to learn how the boys grew to men juggling the demands of the business with their personal passions and genuine love for hip-hop.
While Rapaport’s controlling lens takes viewers on a certified Tribe-trip, he spends a large amount of time pointing out the internal beef between Q-Tip and Phife Dawg. While yes, it did occur (publicly) and is no secret, fanning the flames with “what had happened was” footage took away from the documentary’s impact, and made group leaders seem immature. *cough* From the opening scene, the beef served as antagonist character in the doc. instead of solely highlighting the accomplishments of a trailblazing super-group.
That was the only negative point, however. Featuring cameos by some of the most recognizable icons in hip-hop history, the content alone is worth the trip to the theatres. The story and ah-maz-ing soundtrack (ATCQ EVERYTHING) will leaves audiences raving about this effort. Be sure to check out the documentary in a theatre near you, and support the movement! (Trailer below)