Beats, Rhymes and Life: My Review

 The long awaited, much anticipated documentary about the hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest opened last night and I had the pleasure of seeing it with a bunch of fans in the East Village. There’s been much drama these past few months over the release that made me nervous that this was going to be a hip-hop group gone Jerry Springer over infighting. And yes, there are the kind of fights that a group that’s been together for 20 years would have, but that’s not what the movie’s about. It’s a love story between us (the fans and other musicians) and them. Even if you don’t like hip-hop I double-dog-dare you to go listen to The Low End Theory or Midnight Marauders then tell me that they suck. This was the Golden Age of hip-hop and this film documents that. It’s got little interviews from eeeverybody: QuestLove, Pete Rock, Mos Def, Common, Beastie Boys, Prince Paul, Pharrell, Moni Love, and so many more.

I got to see this film in the best setting possible: Sold-out opening night, in NYC, with a bunch of fans. Sunshine Cinema had a DJ spin their records before the movie and it was perfect. We drank it in like a bunch of groupies. We screamed when the opening credits started. We clapped and laughed and danced and whooped at each nugget of coolness the film dropped on us. We lost it on Bonita Applebum. When Phife Dog opened Buggin Out, we went bonkers. And everybody sang Excursions. And all the little New York-ities of music back in that day was just a gift on the screen.

See this movie.

UPDATE: Check this site for upcoming openings (Canada coming soon!)

NEW YORK Sunshine, Empire, Magic Johnson
LOS ANGELES Arclight Hollywood, Century City 15, Criterion Santa Monica
SAN FRANCISCO Metreon, Kabuki
CHICAGO Century Centre, River East, CineArts Evanston
WASHINGTON, DC E-Street, Georgetown, Bethesda Row, Arlington, Magic Johnson
SAN DIEGO Hillcrest
BOSTON Kendall Square, Boston Commons, Embassy Waltham
PHILADELPHIA, Ritz 5, Ritz Center Voorhees
ATLANTA Midtown, Phipps Plaza
SAN FRANCISCO (additional) Shattuck, Century Mountain View, Marin Sausalito, CineArts, Santana Row San Jose
DALLAS Angelika, Angelika Plano
HOUSTON Edwards Greenway
AUSTIN Violet Crown, Arbor
SEATTLE Pacific Place, Metro, Lincoln Square Bellevue
PORTLAND Cinema 21
DETROIT Uptown Birmingham
PHOENIX Tempe Marketplace
MADISON Sundance Cinemas
MIAMI Regal South Beach
ST. LOUIS Tivoli
SAN ANTONIO Bijou, AMC Huebner
COLUMBUS Gateway, AMC Lennox
DAYTON Neon Movies
KANSAS CITY Palace, AMC Studio Olathe
NEW ORLEANS Canal Place, Elmwood
RALEIGH-CHAPEL HILL Colony Raleigh, Chelsea Chapel Hill

43 thoughts on “Beats, Rhymes and Life: My Review

  1. I love the fact that the story is about hip-hop and to the left is reinstate Hank and save country (I will be checking out both, along with a few of the other blogs you read).
    Makes me glad there are still people who don’t judge music on genre but on how it sounds. Kudos to you.

  2. i have heard many advertisements on the radio this past week and was wondering about it. i’m glad you were able to go, enjoy it and write about it. thanks for sharing and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. that’s … ummm.. FRESH!

  3. As someone who grew up in that era, who enjoyed the music as it happened, I am wondering how much of this love is remembrance of their earlier work & forgiveness for later. Midnight Marauder’s was fine but it wasn’t great. The last 3 records didn’t do much to capitalize on the sonic strengths of the first 2. They weren’t ready to change styles that quickly between records. They are beloved and nearly the best, BUT THEY WERE NEVER THAT GOOD.

    The styles they left behind were co-opted by Jay Z & Kanye, making the Tribe look like they didn’t know what they had. And they didn’t. They slept while others continued to dream. Good for everyone involved by less good for the Tribe. My reverence is for the good memories they brought, not for the strength of their catalog. 20 years on & even high school looks good. How much more ATCQ?

    1. I see your point. The Love Movement left me confused and empty. Even the documentary admits that the chemistry was long gone at that point.

      But… I think when they were good they were great and this movie is a nice slice of that.

  4. OMG! I am so glad I came across your blog, this is DOPE! Wish I had seen soon, especially since I was in NYC (Brooklyn) two weeks ago.

    It’s all good, I’ll be back in a month or.

    Looking forward to connecting and reading more from you!


  5. OK, you gave me a whole different view of hip hop…gotta see it. I do admire the technical aspects and can’t believe how some of it gets made. Not for amateurs!

    Amazing how conflict often fuels bands – no matter their type.

  6. Seriously, though my dance company friends love this stuf I know nothing about it. Glad someone made a film for us trying to at least get a glimpse of what it’s all about.

  7. A professor of mine (the class was Pop Music lol) suggested ATCQ to me. I guess this movie would be a good way to delve as well. Thanks for the post!

  8. Sounds like a good time in the city. Reading this filled me with nostalgia for the “good ol’ days” of hip-hop. Wish I had attended and saw the movie opening.

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