BEATS, RHYMES and LIFE: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest is the Documentary Film directed by Michael Rapaport which has captured the history, evolution and current status of one of Hip-Hops most innovative and beloved groups. It has been recently released on DVD on Sony Classics Pictures. It details how and where all of the group members grew up and met. This film has displayed how Jazz factored into the creation and success of their music. The documentary also displayed how Q-Tip as a producer had much respect for the music of the masters of the past. This love enabled Q-Tip (along with the group) to sample and create new music with bits and pieces of Jazz combined with the Hip-Hop feel, thereby creating a new fusion which formed the basis of the Tribe Called Quest Sound. If you add the infectious rhyme flows and rap styles of each of these Queens, NY natives you have a musical gumbo the still touches the souls of people today. BEATS, RHYMES and LIFE: A Tribe Called Quest Documentary is one of the few created for Hip-Hop Artists.
Their music was created before there was even a thought of being commercial just to sell records. All of the members of the group include: Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jarobi White. There was also a member named Consequence (Q-Tips Cousin) who was with the group from 1995 to 1996. The documentary details their first album “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm”. It breaks down the musical & lyrical content of the most popular songs on the album which include: “Can I Kick It” and the break out classic single: “Bonita Applebum”. During this time period they were managed by DJ Red Alert but eventually made the transition to having Chris Lighty manage them.
The documentary also showed how Q-Tip & Phife Dawg were close childhood friends who were in the same class in early grade school. Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, and Jarobi grew up in St. Albans Queens. This was the same neighborhood and area that RUN DMC, RUSSELL SIMMONS, and LL COOL J hailed from. Ali Shaheed Muhammad was from Brooklyn. During this part of the documentary Jarobi shows a Jazz Mural in St. Albans which displays all of the famous musicians who have lived there at some point which include: John Coltrane, Billie Holiday, James Brown, Brook Benton, Count Basie, Fats Waller, and even Lena Horne.
This documentary film BEATS, RHYMES and LIFE details the events surrounding the epic sophomore album for “A Tribe Called Quest” called “LOW END THEORY”. This album is considered an innovative, and ground breaking album that was and is today critically acclaimed. This album was released on September 24, 1991. Q-Tip speaks of not worrying about a sophomore jinx, but was just focusing on making “LOW END THEORY” to paraphrase. The album featured the notable Jazz bass player Ron Carter on upright bass. Pete Rock also made contributions to this album. Ali Shaheed spoke of how as a group they were all in sync as musicians & artists when making the album. After the release of this album Q-Tip obtained a small role in the movie Poetic Justice playing opposite Janet Jackson as a love interest.
The documentary also gives details about the making of their third album: Midnight Marauders which was released on November 9, 1993. Raphael Saadiq & Large Professor worked with the group on this album. Some of the songs featured on the album include: “Award Tour”, “Steve Biko”, “Oh My God”, and “Electric Relaxation”. Midnight Marauders was TRIBE’s fastest selling album and was certified platinum on January 11, 1995. It was during this time that the late Jay Dee (J Dilla) of Detroit and Q-Tip formed a production team called “The Ummah”. This production team would produce the next 2 TRIBE albums. This started with the next album “BEATS, RHYMES and LIFE” as well as “THE LOVE MOVEMENT” which was their last released album.
The “LOVE MOVEMENT” was the album that signified the end of the magical chemistry the group had. This documentary also details a long standing rift between Phife Dawg and Q-Tip. It also shares Phife’s major health scares (due to diabetes) over the years and the true reason for Jarobi’s “in and out” position within the group over the years. The documentary fills in and answers the blank spots and questions we have had about the group for many years. Watching the film brought back to view a time where Hip-Hop was created more out of a love and passion for the music. This time period was actually a Golden Era in Hip-Hop music. It was also the soundtrack for many of our lives at that time. This is not old school music but timeless classics that will live on. This documentary is a must have for your DVD collection and the first ever for “A Tribe Called Quest”. BEATS,RHYMES and LIFE, the documentary check it out!!
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