Phife Dawg, Q-Tip and Jarobi White performing on stage in "Beats, Rhymes & Life"
Beats, Rhymes & Life
Sundance Film Festival
Director: Michael Rapaport
"Beats, Rhymes & Life" serves as a comprehensive look at one of the most influential hip hop groups to come out of the East Coast. The film traces A Tribe Called Quest from their roots in Queens, through the creation of their five albums and to their eventual and unsuspected breakup in 1998. Longtime fan and first-time filmmaker, Michael Rapaport, joined the band during their 2008 reunion tour on Rock the Bells. Despite recording any new material in the last decade, the group played to sold-out crowds across the country and their fan base continues to grow. Rapaport weaves together archival footage, present day interviews with group members and live performances from the 2008 tour to create a story that exposes the inner turmoil that led to the band’s initial breakup and the unresolved personal conflicts that continue to plague their members. At times the film comes off in the vein of Metallica’s "Some Kind of Monster"—making long-time friends Phife Dawg and Q-Tip seem like dysfunctional men with too large of egos. After an argument breaks out on tour between the two, you wonder if they’re pushing forward for the wrong reasons—a sentiment that is reiterated when members of De La Soul state that they hope the 2008 performances are the last for A Tribe Called Quest. Regardless, "Beats, Rhymes & Life" successfully captures the intensity and energy of one of the most innovative hip hop groups of an era.