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

by on August 10, 2011
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True artists never stop inspiring. Over two decades after their formation as teenagers in a New York City public high school, A Tribe Called Quest’s groundbreaking influence on hip-hop music continues in full force. With the reverence of an aficionado, Michael Rapaport documents the significant ups and challenging downs of a quartet so acclaimed that even Kanye West is noticeably humbled in their presence.

Yet “Beats Rhymes & Life” isn’t a simple tale of sex, drugs and music. Together and apart, the members of A Tribe Called Quest possess a true family dynamic — with all the clashing personalities and strong opinions that come with it. Frontman Q-Tip is sensitive and brilliant but tends to be singleminded in pursuit of art. Phife Dawg, Q-Tip’s gifted childhood friend, struggles with wavering dedication to the group and a severe diagnosis. Meanwhile, soulful Jarobi pursues other passions and mellow Ali often finds himself caught in the middle of Q-Tip and Phife Dawg’s long-lasting grudges.

And yet in the midst of all the drama, there is music. Phrases so catchy even hip-hop neophytes find themselves mouthing along. Rhythms so fantastic it’s impossible to stay still. Songs containing both fun vibes and positive, hopeful messages — among the first of their kind in the genre. Through interesting animation, revealing interviews and electrifying concert footage, Rapaport paints a colorful and funky portrait that proves A Tribe Called Quest will always rock the world.