On the eve of the premiere for Michael Rapaport’s documentary, “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest,” tensions still seem thick between the group and the first time feature director. The ongoing public airing of disagreements began with a comment made by Q-Tip via twitter after an unofficial trailer leaked out in December — at the time he said he was “not in support” of the documentary.
Rapaport dismissed the rapper’s “little Twitter thing” as nerves, reminding everyone that Q-Tip was a producer on the doc and was surely still in support of it. But Q-Tip recently tweeted “The director of the film cannot speak to what is in my head about the documentary,” according to MTV. “Nor can this director ever say I don’t speak for the group. When I say I do then believe me I do,” he continued. “Tribe is no different than any other collective. We experienced bumps bruises and disagreements then and we still do. But knowing our history and our messages in our music we will never be taken advantage of like we were in the past. We don’t care who it is.”
If anything the scrape between the two is getting people more fired up about the doc. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Rapaport was enthusiastic too. “There’s never been a formal, proper independently-made documentary about a hip-hop group. They were one of the first acts to seamlessly use elements of jazz–taking the records that were in their parents’ record collection and putting them in hip-hop. There was a consciousness without being overbearing and fun and innocence, at the same time Public Enemy was out. Tribe’s music had inclusiveness. It was definitely soulful, black music, but it was for everybody.”
He kind of skirted the question, claiming they were “past it,” when asked about Q-Tip, whom Rapaport had first approached about making the documentary in 2008. “My big question to answer as a director was: Will a Tribe Called Quest make more music?” Rapaport posed. He didn’t tell what the answer was though, “I got to leave some cliffhangers.”
The director then reminisced about his first time at Sundance for his role in “Zebrahead,” in 1992. “I met Quentin Tarantino at the Reservoir Dogs premiere. I was also at a midnight screening of “Kids,” sitting right in front of Harvey Weinstein,” Rapaport recalled. “It was a big year for independent film. Sitting in the movie theater and listening to all these filmmakers talk about how they were paying for things with their credit card, ‘I made this movie for $7,000’ and ‘I quit my job for this movie’ or ‘I mortgaged my house to make this movie.'”
Rapaport can walk the talk too, as he paid for “Beats, Rhymes & Life” out of his own pocket. “I think it’s even gotten harder now,” he said. “Who the fuck is going to buy one of these rinky-dink little movies? If you are going to make a passion project, it’s going to be a bloodbath.”
Only member of Tribe, Phife, attended the film’s premiere over the weekend. Q-Tip and the rest abstained, but released this statement to AllHipHop.com, “We hope that the film’s perspective conveys our love of hip-hop culture,” Tribe continued in the statement. “We could not attend Sundance, but we want to express our love and appreciation for the support that we have received in advance of the film’s premiere tonight. We hope that it is well received.”