Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest
You're not likely to find a more charismatic or musically studied rapper than Q-Tip, the leader of the defunct rap group known as "A Tribe Called Quest." Actor-turned-director Michael Rapaport performs a labor of love to chart the group's '80s era rise toward their eventual break-up in 1998, and beyond. Even if you've never heard any of the band's hugely popular songs, such as "Can I Kick It?" or "I Left My Wallet in El Segundo," it doesn't take long for the music to win you over. Filled with energized performance clips and candid backstage personality clashes, the documentary carries a winning brand of unpretentiousness. There's no P-Diddy-styled posing going on here. Although the story of the band tips in the corner of the articulate Q-Tip (Kamaal Ibn John Fareed, formerly Jonathan Davis) to speak for the group, the other members get their fair say too. The band's outspoken member Phife Dawg proves to be a very influential force of nature. Rapaport also interviews a wide spectrum of New York rap scene-makers and DJs to gain perspective on a unique rap group that eschewed the genre's trademark violent and misogynistic subject matter in favor of a more celebratory lyrical approach. "Beats, Thymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest" is a galvanizing documentary capable of sending audience members out on personal musical quests of their own.
Rated R. 98 mins. (B) (Three Stars - out of five/no halves)
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