Who's in it: Common, ?QuestLove, Monie Love, Pharrell and of course the members of their collaborative bands, De La Soul and The Jungle Brothers, plus Q-tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed, Muhammad and Jarobi White.
Why it's a must-see: Directed and produced by Michael Rapaport, one of the group's biggest fans, “Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest,” reminds us of what it felt like to hear one of its a crisp new CDs from the early years: authentic and real hip-hop.
The plot: The film opens up with the group coming back together after a ten-year separation. There are issues between the two lead vocalists, Q-Tip and Phife Dawg, that have never truly been resolved and it plays out in front of the camera. Several behind-the-music resolutions are revealed in this documentary that answers the question of why the group have not been in the studio together since 1998 with the release of their last studio album, ironically called “The Love Movement.”
There is love weaved throughout the 90 minute film, however. But rather than producing a film about the history and influence of A Tribe Called Quest, Rapaport interjects himself into the mounting tensions that constantly surface during the 2008 reunion tour. These cinema-verite-styled interjections bring resolutions and clarity to the documentary in a way that is quite refreshing. Fans not only want to hear their music but they also want to know what’s keeping them from making more. Rapaport skillfully answers these questions before the camera and actively engages his audience in a story that continues to play out after the ending credits have rolled. He never takes a side in the beef but allows each member to share their own story in an in-depth and impactful way.
The most meaningful footage comes in the group's origins: when the group members meet for the first time in Queens New York as teenagers; their energy and youthful exuberance is uncanny and will resonate to both old and new school hip hop heads.
This film is a must-see for fans of A Tribe Called Quest and fans of the Native Tongue collaborative; but this documentary will touch the unassuming hip-hop or rap music fan in a way that listening to their music never can. After watching this film, you will become a fan of their music and their creative spirits.