BEATS, RHYMES & LIFE: THE TRAVELS OF A TRIBE CALLED QUEST is 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. As he travels with the band members (Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White), Rapaport captures the story of how tenuous their relationship has become; how their personal differences and unresolved conflicts continue to be a threat to their creative cohesion.
When mounting tensions erupt backstage during a show in San Francisco, we get a behind-the-scenes look at their journey and contributions as a band and what currently is at stake for these long-time friends and collaborators.
Rarely heard stories from New York’s legendary DJ Red Alert, Native Tongues members like Monie Love, the Jungle Brothers, Busta Rhymes, and De La Soul bring an intimacy to the days when young artists discovered the freedom of artistic expression, while rejecting the confines of gangster rap and negative stereotypes. Chronicles of songs like “Scenario” and “Check the Rhime” paint a vivid picture of growing up in Queens, and how the band’s unique approach to hip hop helped transform and influence the genre for years to come.
A New York native, Rapaport’s lifelong love for hip hop helps achieve intimate, all-access interviews and cinéma vérité-style filmmaking, fostering a conversation for A Tribe Called Quest to determine if there is a possibility to mend the wounds from over the years.
In addition to chronicling the past, present and uncertain future of the band, the film includes interviews from the Beastie Boys, Kanye West, Pharrell, Mos Def, Santigold, Monie Love, Pete Rock, Large Professor, De La Soul, The Jungle Brothers and Common, all of whom attribute some combination of love, respect, and inspiration drawn from the legacy of A Tribe Called Quest.