LIVE: Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest
By Vizion Jones on July 1, 2011
There was a very communal vibe running through the Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood last Friday for the LA Film Fest screening of Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest. That feeling, however, had nothing to do with any sort of shared personal history, but was a remarkable result of the audience’s collective attachment to the Queens, New York-based four-piece. Regardless of age or background, the at-capacity crowd was prepared for their own memories of the group to align themselves with the actual history of A Tribe Called Quest.
The film opens with a tense backstage scene from the final show of Tribe's highly anticipated 2008 Rock The Bells reunion tour. Immediately focusing on the ongoing rift between Q-Tip and Phife Dawg, director Michael Rapaport sets the stage for a backwards narrative that explains how legendary talent and eccentric energy can turn sour through time, success and egotism. Interweaving Tribe's influential history in hip-hop with intimate snapshots of individual vulnerability, Beats, Rhymes & Life doesn’t just go for drama, but portrays the genuine balance between finger-pointing and the understanding and respect between lifelong friends.
Despite playing a background role to all of the candid backstage footage, archived photos and cameos from a laundry list of hip-hop's latest and greatest, the expansive catalogue of ATCQ hits were consistently greeted with hearty cheers and sentimental head nods. Under the darkness of the Los Angeles night sky, not one lyric was lost.
While the film may not be particularly revelatory of anything that a quick Google search couldn’t turn up, the beauty of Rapaport's film is the audience’s dual investment in the anecdotes of the individuals involved and the well-being of the group as a whole. In the end, Beats, Rhymes & Life leaves the audience triumphant and hopeful, closing with the tagline, "A Tribe Called Quest have one album left on their original contract with Jive." Here’s to hoping for a sequel.
Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest opens in Los Angeles and New York on July 8 and is coming soon to city near you.