Saturday, January 29, 2011


I may not be the biggest hip hop fan on the planet anymore but that has more to do with the state of rap today than anything else. Ringtones ruined the hip-hop genre and now so much of it sounds exactly the same that I don't know who's who or what's what. It's kind of a bummer, but I'm doing fine without having ever heard the kid from Degrassi rap.

The majority of the rap that I like and still listen to is the stuff from the early to mid-90s. The likes of N.W.A., Biggie, The Pharcyde every so often, De La Soul, Wu Tang Clan and that kind of thing. Right up there towards the top for me during that time was A Tribe Called Quest. They were always a staple of the hip-hop/punk mixes I used to make for people in high school (there might be one floating around my parents house still. If I can find it, I'll go through it like I did this one) and while I haven't listened to them in a while, they are still one of my favorites.

Michael Rapaport (character actor from awesome stuff like BOSTON PUBLIC) followed them around for a couple of years and brought a documentary about them to Sundance called BEATS, RHYMES AND LIFE that I saw the other night. It was a solid movie that stalled a little in the middle, but picked up at the end again. The most interesting parts were how they came together originally and how their first comeback tour (on Rock The Bells 2008) fell apart because of Fife's trouble with diabetes and his already strained relationship with Q-Tip.

It soared when Rapaport looked at the rise of the New York art hip-hop scene which was trying to be decidedly different from what N.W.A. was doing out in California. I didn't care much for the later albums by the group, which is where the movie gets a little slow and boring, but when Q-Tip and Fife get into an argument backstage at Rock the Bells in SF (which Rapaport was present for with cameras), it got really good again. I think my favorite part of the movie was when Rapaport asked the guys from De La Soul (also on that tour at the time) if that would be the last ATCQ show and he answered bluntly, "I hope so," and went off about how Tribe had always been about love and respect for each other, and if it wasn't true anymore then they shouldn't be up on stage pretending that it was.

The doc had to walk a fine line since Rapaport is also an enormous Tribe fan, and he didn't want it to come across as a home made fan film. It worked out really well and I was glad I caught it (I even got in a couple of questions during the panel after the movie).

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