Beats, Rhymes & Strife

July 8, 2011  |  

(NPR) — Rapper-producer Q-Tip has announced that he doesn’t like Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest, actor turned director Michael Rapaport’s portrait of Tip’s former group. Yet Rapaport, a longtime Quest fan, clearly admires Tip. He’s just too forthright a storyteller to bury the tale of the quartet’s acrimonious unraveling.  For the uninitiated, A Tribe Called Quest was one of the 1990s’ most lauded hip-hop acts. At a time when gangsta rap was ascendant, the Queens-rooted quartet (along with such fellow travelers as De La Soul and the Jungle Brothers) had a sunnier, more playful outlook. The group also helped pioneer a jazz-based sound, favoring cool grooves and sinuous bass over the strident funk and rock loops of their neighborhood precursors, LL Cool J and Run-DMC. One of Quest’s biggest hits, “Can I Kick It?” was based on the distinctively sauntering bass line of Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side.”

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