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

Release July 8, 2011 (Limited)
Director Michael Rapaport
Genres Documentary
Studio Rival Pictures/Mongrel Media


In just eight years, A Tribe Called Quest, the band whose jazz-infused music and Afrocentric rhymes made them iconic pioneers in hip hop, released five albums, with three going platinum (including Beats, Rhymes & Life) and two gold. But the band's mysterious breakup in 1998 shocked the industry and saddened fans.

The split left a generation hungering for more—until 2008, when band members (Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jorobi White) reunited to perform sold-out concerts across America. As tensions mount, it all comes to a head when a backstage blowout erupts at an event in San Francisco.

The film traces the group's career, right from its beginnings in Queens, New York, where the members were childhood friends. Forming the band in 1985, they immediately eschewed the jaded posturing associated with hip hop. Interviewees like New York's legendary DJ Red Alert, as well as fellow artists Monie Love, the Jungle Brothers, Busta Rhymes and De La Soul talk about those early days. It seems every ATCQ album has a unique story behind it.

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