Five records, four guys and one dysfunctional relationship add up to the
core of Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest,
a note-perfect documentary on the groups quarter-century history.
need not even listen to the Tribes style of music to appreciate the
films dramatic heft. Instantly likable, its better than any rock doc
of recent memory, including Anvil! The Story of Anvil, Dig!,
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster and The Fearless Freaks.
The film opens Friday exclusively at AMC Quail Springs Mall 24, 2501 W. Memorial.
it begins with harmony and discord: the former, onstage as the
splintered Tribe reforms for a 2008 tour; the latter, immediately
backstage, as the dueling talents call the performance their last as a
group. Its about the unit is spoken more than once, but the movie is
more about the love-hate relationship between its two largest egos.
one of them says, à la Lethal Weapons Sgt. Murtaugh, Im getting
too old for this shit, its not an exaggeration; Q-Tip and Phife Dawg,
now in their early 40s, have been best friends since they were 2 years
old. Old photographs of their early days, as well as the infancy of the
group they would form in high school in 1985, are layered in three
dimensions, like scenes culled from View-Master cartridges.
mishaps of dated fashion, the four men of A Tribe Called Quest were way
ahead of their time with influential, genre-swirling tracks like I Left
My Wallet in El Segundo, Bonita Applebum and Buggin Out party
records free of disses and full of samples pulled from the work of their
elders, the way Quentin Tarantino does for his films. Singing the
bands praises in interviews are De La Soul, Mary J. Blige, Beastie
Boys, The Roots, Mos Def and many others.
interesting as that story is, the internal conflict lifts the
documentary beyond a retrospective puff piece, as two men who love each
other like brothers also fight like them. Phife, feeling like The
Supremes to Q-Tips Diana Ross, sums it up best: Stop trying to front
like Im Tito or some shit ... no offense to Tito.
Rapaport an actor known for his work in the likes of True Romance
and Deep Blue Sea directs with surprising energy and ease,
assembling a compact yet complete-feeling film as lively animated as its
opening credits. Rod Lott