After a few months of controversy, the Tribe Called Quest documentary, Beats, Rhymes & Life, directed by Michael Rapaport, premiered at Sundance this weekend, drawing rave reviews. More than one critic called it the hip-hop Some Kind of Monster, and it reportedly hasn’t been softened to make Tribe seem perfect: It posits, rightly, that Tribe’s recent reunion tours are solely for the money they missed out on the first go-round. It also gets to the tumultuous relationship between Phife Dawg and Q-Tip, which has been sometimes loving, and sometimes heartless.
The premiere wasn’t without controversy, though: Phife was the only member of the group that showed up, doing a Q&A afterwards. The L.A. Times has details of that:
“I wish the rest of them were here,”Phife said, after resting his head on the lectern. “They don’t understand. I’ve been listening to you guys’ responses throughout the movie. Q-Tip has no idea how many people love him. When he was up there cracking jokes, yo, I almost pissed my pants!”
He continued: “You guys were dying of laughter. He don’t see that…. He’s like, ‘Yo, man, I don’t know, man. I don’t know.’ I just wish they were all here to witness how much love you showed this movie.”
[Update: Q-Tip, Jarobi and Ali Shaheed Muhammad issued a statement about the film on Saturday evening: “We hope that the film’s perspective conveys our love for hip-hop culture. 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.”]
Phife –- who is shown battling a debilitating case of diabetes in the film, undergoing a kidney transplant with his wife as a donor — grew philosophical about his group’s lasting cultural influence and then turned somewhat hopeful for more Tribal unity in the event “Beats, Rhymes & Life”screens at the Tribecca Film Festival later this year.
“We’re 40 years of age. Well, I don’t look 40. But this is the time to reap the benefits and really enjoy,”said Phife. “I wish they were here,” he added: “Maybe they’ll make Tribeca.” The audience rose to their feet with thunderous applause.
The Tribe doc moves to Tribeca later this year, but here’s hoping that some company picks it up for wide release. From everything I’ve read, it seems awesome. Write your movie executive, I guess. [via LA Times]