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

Written by


Gemma Dempsey, producer of The Treatment here at KCRW, came back from Sundance raving about the new Tribe Called Quest documentary, “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest”.  It will be at the Tribeca Film Festival this week, but it won’t be in theaters until summer (July 8 in NY & LA, followed by other select cities). However, you can get a preview, thanks to Gemma, below.

From Gemma:

“Beats, Rhymes & Life” was introduced by Trevor Groth, a recent guest on The Treatment, along with the film’s  enthusiastic director (and actor) Michael Rapaport.

Michael Rapaport is first and foremost is a huge fan of A Tribe called Quest and his film is a terrific study of a group that put hip hop on the musical map. It covers the excitement of the times (1980’s through to the Rock the Bells Tour in 2008) featuring interviews with Monie Love, the Beastie Boys, Kanye West, The Jungle Brothers  and Pharrell to name a few –  all whom passionately talk about the vital contribution A Tribe Called Quest made to all of them and to the world of music.

Pharrell, in particular, credits his career to the inspiration he received from the group.

Rapaport gets each of the band members to talk openly about their perspective of the highs and lows, in particular the strained relationship between Q Tip and Phife Dawg – and the impact Phife’s struggles with kidney disease had on him and the band – (he finally was ‘cured’ when his wife donates one of hers to him – now that’s what I call love!)

The film was a fun flashback to my youth (the hip hop scene! the art and graffiti! The hair! The clothes!?!) but its also a well made, vibrant  account of a time in music’s history and the complex relationships that tend to go hand in hand with ground breaking talent.

I really enjoyed  it – this is a documentary to dance to people!!

–Gemma Dempsey