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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Beats, Rhymes, & Life The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest Directed By Michael Rapaport Movie Review & Experience by AlShan Barnett aka DJ NahSla (BNE)

Beats, Rhymes, & Life

As the opening credits start to roll, all you can feel is anticipation knowing you are about to witness something epic. You’re in stadium seating, in the theater that is, but you start off looking at others in a stadium. As you hear the words of the ‘Abstract Poetic’ otherwise known as Q-Tip, without a watch, you know what time it is. A Tribe Called Quest consists of four members: Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Q-Tip, and Jarobi; A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y. I’m sure the ATCQ fans would appreciate that I finished that statement. The interesting part about that is the Y, and that is why this movie was made.

Everyone wanted to know why fans have not had an ATCQ album since 1998. Why did the group that released five gold and platinum selling albums break up? We have seen them perform at shows like VH1’s Hip-Hop Honors and Rock The Bells, so where is all the controversy coming from? Rock The Bells 2008 is when the question of why became too much for actor and now first time director Michael Rapaport. Michael has been a die-hard fan since he first heard the group back in 1980’s. It was that tour when he decided to follow the tribe and get some much-needed answers to questions from ATCQ fans. From that curiosity, this documentary was born about the travels of A Tribe Called Quest.

A Tribe Called Quest was largely responsible for the popularity of a new style that dominated the East Coast sound of the early 1990s and has been called the most intelligent, artistic rap group of that decade. The group is made up emcees, Phife Dawg and Q-Tip, deejay Ali Shaheed Muhammad, as well as rapper Jarobi, who left the group early but rejoined in 2006. They are responsible for classics such as: Bonita Applebum”, “Can I Kick it?”, “Left My Wallet in El Segundo”, “Check The Rhime”, “Jazz (We Got)”, “Scenario”, “Award Tour” and “Electric Relaxation.” In addition to having their own group, they were apart of the Native Tongues who were known for their positive-minded, good-natured Afrocentric lyrics, eclectic sampling and later jazz-influenced beats. Rolling Stone has called their records “near-flawless,” and that “few hip-hop acts have so sharply captured the surreal quality that defines what it means to be African-American, a quality in which poker-faced humor and giddy tragedy play tag team with reality.”

The film moves from the concert to a backstage conversation between Q-Tip and Michael. “So was that the last show?” Michael asks Q-Tip as he heads to the dressing room. That is one of the many questions that surround the tribe. Will they ever make music again is a question that is still up for debate seeing as that they still have one album on their contract with Jive Records from 1989. Do they still get along with each other? If they don’t get along, why do we keep seeing them perform together?

Michael Rapaport takes you on a journey as he follows the group and gets in depth and personal with each member. He lets them tell their story from beginning to end including the highs to the lows. The movie was originally supposed to be called Beats, Rhymes, and Fights, but the title was scrapped because he felt that it was more than just beef but an underlying story about men who were more than just rap group members. This movie is so much more than the trials and tribulations of one of the most iconic groups in music history. You will see where they’re from, what brought them together and meet their families. They are true representatives of this culture known as Hip-Hop and were so far ahead of their time, that they changed the face of rap music. Michael got a chance to receive input from some of the biggest contributors in Hip-Hop such as: ?uestlove, Black Thought, Common, Pharrell Williams, The Beastie Boys, as well as Native Tongue Members, Dres of Black Sheep, De La Soul, Monie Love, and many more.

Rapaport brings you live concert footage and unknown stories and secrets of how the classic albums we all know and love were made. There are times that things get very real and personal in regards to Phife’s health issues and the tension between himself and Q-Tip. You get to see what made and broke what many would call, The Beatles of Hip-Hop. This is not a movie that you just watch, but a movie that you experience. It brings back memories of hearing that music for the first time and makes a serious head-nod uncontrollable. It is an adventure that will move a person that doesn’t know too much about the group but is a fan of music. You’ll feel the beats, listen to the rhymes, and see what their life was like, as you witness the travels of A Tribe Called Quest. For more information on the movie visit or

Posted By: AlShan “DJ NahSla” Barnett (BNE)

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