Will seminal rap group A Tribe Called Quest ever record another album together?

That question, pondered by hip-hop fans for more than a decade now, forms the basis of Michael Rapaport's excellent but controversial documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest.

The answer, sadly, appears to be "no".

It's the only possible response fans could have after viewing this remarkably honest and heartfelt behind-the-scenes look at the New York quartet responsible for classics like Buggin' Out and Scenario.


Rapaport's affection for the band is obvious, and there's plenty of historical footage, live performances and insightful interviews that will have fans of '90s backpack rap in awe.

The film sparked beef between the director and rapper Q-Tip over some of the material used in the film. But it's the animosity between Q-Tip and Phife Dawg that really stands out in the film.

The cause of the tension isn't discussed but was behind the band's split in 1998, and the pair only reunited for a series of live shows to raise money for Phife Dawg's urgent kidney surgery.

That the film is left open-ended is sure to keep fans hanging out for a new Quest album, no matter how bad the tension between the two. Sort it out guys, because hip-hop needs you.

Extras: Deleted scenes, director's commentary, a making-of feature and the film's trailer.
Stars: 5/5

- Herald online