Beats Rhymes & Life: The Awesome Travels of A Tribe Called Quest

February 3, 2011 : 10:57 pm | by Will Gentile

The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest

Of the all of the films I saw at Sundance one of the best had to be the documentary Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest directed by actor turned filmmaker Michael Rapaport. The film follows the origins and career of the legendary and influential rap group from the late 1980’s through their breakup in the late 1990’s. having a limited knowledge of the group other than hearing their music, this film did an exceptional job of providing background of the members of the group as well as additional information on people who were influences on them growing up in New York City. The best part of the film in my mind was the attention to detail paid to the the group’s albums and how each differed from the next in particular the use of sampling (in case you don’t know means using beats or parts of songs from other recording artists) ¬†that the group was known for and how it influenced other artists to follow suit. The relationship between the members Phife Dawg and Q-Tip is also at the heart of the group’s story and is a funny and interesting exploration of what fame and fortune in the music industry can do to a life long friendship. Another aspect of the film I enjoyed was the interviews with other artists that were influenced by A Tribe Called Quest as it revealed to me just how much of an impact they had in the styles of other artists such as Record Producer Pharell Williams and artists like Common and Kanye West. Rapaport makes good use of combining archive footage with present interviews of the group members to capture the mood of their work and their feelings ¬†about the music they created. If I were to recommend one documentary to see from the group shown at Sundance this one would be it as it would be an experience that is thoroughly enjoyable and make you want to bust a dance move right there in the theater.

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