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A new documentary looks at the music and troubled friendships of hip-hop legends A Tribe Called Quest
JANETTE BECKMAN

Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and the internationally acclaimed Caracalla Dance Theatre present

An Historic Journey into the Heart of the Arabian Desert

July 15 & 16 at 8 pm | Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater
Tickets starting at $45 | Available at the Kennedy Center Box Of ce, charge by phone at 202-467-4600 and at www.kennedy-center.org
www.caracalladance.com

T H U R S D AY | 0 7. 1 4 . 2 0 1 1 | E X P R E S S | E5

entertainment |

MICHAEL RAPAPORT, COURTESY OF SONY PICTURES CLASSICS

— MICH A EL R A PA POR T, DIRECTOR OF THE NEW DOCUMENTARY “BEATS, RHYMES & LIFE: THE TRAVELS OF A TRIBE CALLED QUEST,” WHICH TRACES THE CAREER OF THE INFLUENTIAL NEW YORK HIP-HOP GROUP AND THE STRAINED RELATIONSHIPS OF ITS MEMBERS.

Hip-hop legends A Tribe Called Quest — from left, Phife Dawg, Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad — made a major mark on rap in the 1990s .

A new documentary traces the tale of hip-hop trailblazers A Tribe Called Quest
As a teenager growing up in New York City in the late 1980s, Michael Rapaport listened religiously to hiphop radio station 98.7 Kiss FM. That was where he first heard A Tribe Called Quest. “I was just taken by the musicality,” the actor-turned-director recalls. “Tribe were like superheroes. They were largerthan-life people talking about these everyday things.” The legendary Queens hip-hop group — made up of rapper-producer Q-Tip, rapper Phife Dawg and DJ/ producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad — released three groundbreaking records and changed the face of hiphop throughout the 1990s. (Rapper Jarobi White has floated in and out of the band, recently touring again with Tribe.) They gained a loyal following of lifelong fans — including Rapaport. He was there when Tribe played its breakup show in 1998 and again

jokes and talked about the bum-ass Knicks. By the time the cameras came on, it was like they weren’t on. Phife Dawg (Malik Isaac Taylor) opens up about “Beats, Rhymes & Life” and what the future holds for Tribe.

Does Tribe plan to record again?
That’s pretty much up in the air. In my heart of hearts, I hope we’ll be able to tour eventually. As far as doing another album, hopefully, it’ll happen, because we’ve owed Jive Records another one since forever. But right now we’re concentrating on the film and getting over those emotional scars.

What did you think about having a camera in your face for a few years?
At first, I wasn’t really a fan of it. Mike [Rapaport] approached me last out of the group. Everybody had agreed to do it, and I wasn’t going to be the one to say no. He’s a funny dude, and we cracked

What is your relationship with Q-Tip like these days?
We’re cool now. We were finally able to sit down, put everything out on the table. I don’t want it to seem like we’re the worst of enemies. That’s my brother, and family argues sometimes.

How is your health?
My health is fine. Every now and then something might go awry, but it’s nothing like what I had to go through from 2004 through 2008. God is good, you know. S.D.

ROBERT BENAVIDES

when they played a reunion show in 2008, and those experiences inspired him to make “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest,” opening Friday at E Street Cinema. T he documentar y mark s t he directorial debut for the actor, who is perhaps best known for roles on “Friends” and “Prison Break.” He spent three years filming the group at home and onstage, and the result is a smart, funny and surprisingly poignant film chronicling the rocky relationships bet ween the Tribe members — most prominently Q-Tip and Phife Dawg. Lifelong friends who started rapping before they were 10 years old, the two helped to define Tribe’s unique boho musical style but grew apart with each new record. Phife’s battle with diabetes, which involved an emergency kidney transplant i n 20 08, prompte d a rou nd of reunion shows to defray his medical costs and inspired some of the most moving scenes in “Beats, Rhymes & Life.” But the film captures some o f t h e i r f r i e n d s h i p ’s t o u g h e r moments, too: At one point, Phife and Q -T i p n e a r l y c o m e t o b l o w s backstage. Still, Rapaport insists the two are friends and as close as brothers. Of course, “sometimes you just hate your brother,” he laughs. “The people you love the most can be the people you can’t stand the most. But whether they like it or not, they’re married to A Tribe Called Quest for life.” STEPHEN M. DEUSNER
Landmark E Street Cinema, 555 11th St. NW; opens Fri., $11; 202-452-7672, Landmarktheatres.com. (Metro Center)

This dance-floor come-on, from the group’s 1990 debut, “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm,” casts Q-Tip as the ultimate boho Romeo.

The answer to this 1990 jam is always, “Yes, you can!”

Closes out 1991’s “The Low End Theory” with a party vibe and Tribe’s liveliest calland-responses.

This 1991 track features some of Q-Tip’s best samples and some of Phife’s funniest rhymes.

Inventive samples on this 1993 tune highlight the Tribe members’ distinctive personalities. S.D.