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

by director Michael Rapaport

For me A Tribe Called Quest meant the same thing as the Beatles, Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones, so my goal was to treat them the same way those groups have been documented over the years. Their unique talent, creativity and energy made them a force to be reckoned with in the hip-hop world when they broke out in the late 1980s. As far as I was concerned, there hadn’t been a proper documentary about any rap group, so I was determined to create a film that didn't feel contrived or supplementary. I wanted to achieve the same raw and rare truth ATCQ captured in their music. When they broke up in 1998, I was really disappointed, because a lot of groups break up, but I never expected that ATCQ would break up, and that fascination with why they broke up and what happened is really what spawned my interest in to wanting to do the documentary 10 years later.

During the process of making this film, I experienced some of the most creative highs and lows of my life, coupled with personal anxiety and excitement. The exciting moments came during the shooting of the film. Capturing beautiful live concert performances was a thrill. The first thing we shot was A Tribe Called Quest’s reunion show in 2008 for the Rock The Bells tour. That was exciting; just to get it started, being onstage with one of my favorite groups and shooting concert footage! I have to say the more vérité-style moments and scenes were what made me realize that directing was something I will continue to do for the rest of my career. Having unplanned and unexpected moments of truth and honesty unfold while the camera was rolling gave me the same adrenaline rush I've experienced as an actor between the words "Action" and "Cut." I didn’t realize the movie was going to be as interpersonal as it turned out! Of course as a filmmaker I was excited that it was turning into that, and I related to it on a lot more levels because it became more human.

I know that I made it for one reason and that’s because A Tribe Called Quest is my favorite group and I love their spirit and music. Always have and always will.

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