Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest | Chicago Reader

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

This authorized documentary is more of a celebration of the legendary Queens quartet than a serious exploration of their art. But considering how brilliant they were at their peak (and how their innovative sampling of jazz and obscure soul continues to be a major influence on hip-hop), it's hard to disagree with the general sentiment. In his first feature as director, Michael Rapaport keeps things lively with a hip-hop-tinged aesthetic, shuffling rhythmically between old and new footage. However engaging, though, the visuals have little to say about Tribe's legacy when compared with the original score, contributed by the great producer Madlib. Deploying his mammoth record archive to comment and elaborate on the samples the group used, he vibrantly illustrates the cultural continuity between jazz and hip-hop espoused by the movie's interviewees. The talking heads, several of them clearly stoned, include De La Soul, Pharrell Williams, and the Beastie Boys.



  • Michael Rapaport


  • Niraj Bhatia
  • Dan Burks

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