No Trivia

Spin: On Beats, Rhymes & Life: Travels With A Tribe Called Quest


Too caught up in trivia and mythos, not so much nostalgic as wistful for specific moments in time, and boiling over with bickering, Michael Rapaport’s Beats, Rhymes & Life: Travels With A Tribe Called Quest is the sort of documentary that hip-hop fans deserve. The movie hinges on the tension between Rapaport’s fanboy excitement and the all-encompassing frustration that haunts rapping partners Q-Tip and Phife Dawg. So strained is the relationship that there’s barely any “good old days” talk in the film, though Rapaport certainly tries to drum some up.

Over and over, the film — out now in select cities (click here to find a theater in your area) — attempts to celebrate the crew, yet Tip and Phife forever kick against any type of simple glorification, sometimes on purpose, sometimes because they’re careless assholes, while producer/DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and kinda-sorta member Jarobi just sit back and cringe. Except for some talking heads paying tribute (Beastie Boys, a beyond-excited Pharrell, Common, the Roots) and Rapaport’s slobbery, entitled puppy-dog presence just off-camera, the group’s legendary reputation is mostly treated as a hip-hop universal truth — which, of course, it is. See, you can’t put Tribe in a box. That was, like, their whole deal. So why even try to penetrate more deeply and try to explain it?

Written by Brandon

July 23rd, 2011 at 4:28 am

Posted in Spin, Spin column

3 Responses to 'Spin: On Beats, Rhymes & Life: Travels With A Tribe Called Quest'

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  1. I also left this comment on Spin but just in case you missed it:

    Yeah I also think it’s weird how everyone thinks the film sides with Phife so hard, though I guess since Phife is the only one that fully supports the film, people could get confused kinda easily. I thought the film was pretty centered in that battle between Tip and Phife. It just kinda came off as two dudes who had one friendship dynamic growing up having trouble with that same friendship dynamic as adults. Where Tip was like pushing Phife along to get out of his shell or something. And then that just means something else when you’re like a grown man having another grown man push you into anything.

    Also agree on the best parts being those random anecdotes about like “El Segundo,” Siemens furniture, and the “Can I Kick It” drums, the goofy dancing, clowning backstage–those are all great. I know there’s just gotta be a ton of extra footage like that laying around. I wonder if they’ll ever release see release like in the blogosphere or something. I think it’d be such a loss if it never saw released in some form, especially all the stories behind the specific records.


    26 Jul 11 at 4:24 am

  2. Answered this one over at Spin, if that’s cool…


    26 Jul 11 at 4:37 am

  3. You ought to really control the remarks on this website

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    15 Jun 12 at 2:50 am

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