Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Beats Rhymes & Life: A Conversation
Last week, my homie, Matt Tassone and I were both lucky enough to see festival screenings of Michael Rapaport's Beats Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest. Our thoughts on the film are as follows:
Old school, AOL Instant Messenger styles. Mostly raw, and unedited (grammar nazis, step off).
Boothe: Toronto Blue
Matt: Pittsburgh Black
ok, so let's start this off with a quote.
"Beats, Rhymes & Life is The Low End Theory of music documentaries"
is it fair to say that you enjoyed this film?
even more than i had hoped i would. i went to nyc specifically to see it and it was more than worth it
had i not had a plane to catch the next day, i would've tried to get rush tickets to see it again
and as the low end theory of docs, that makes it my favorite hip-hop one of all time
i enjoyed the hell out of it too
one of the reasons why I wanted to talk to you in particular, is because of your background in film
i wondered if this was really a good doc, or was I just getting caught in the emotion of it
at the end of the day, i'm not sure it really matters
well, to be honest, i don't think i can separate myself from it to make a valid observation on that, but my inkling is that it was well done
it's surprisingly touching in places, very funny all through out and just has a great spirit to it
granted, you and i probably feel that more than others, but i think even non-fans would enjoy it. although, if someone is a non-fan of tribe, they clearly don't have any taste at all so perhaps they'd be more happy watching a dane cook special
one aspect that really impressed me, was the animation in the film. in particular i like the work they did with the old photos, bringing them to life
i just loved that they included the busted ass jetta in the title sequence
just like in notorious when they had that one shot of biggie in a red and black lumberjack with a hat to match
ok, being tribe fans, was there anything in the origins section that you didn't know?
i didn't realize that the jungle brothers had actual family ties to red alert
but i think that's about it. again, though, it's one thing to read a bio for info like that. it's another thing to see it captured in a manner that communicates non-tangible things so well
seeing q-tip hug the principle form his high school, ali pausing to let that little kid zoom by on his scooter, etc. things like that really elevated it
that's why i'm leaning towards thinking it was good documentary filmmaking
the high school scenes were great. q-tip pounding on the table...got some great percussion sounds out of it.
i got the sense that most people in the theatre i watched it with, didn't know about Mike G, and Red Alert. I'm gonna play class nerd, stand up and say I KNEW THAT
one thing i wanna mention is that i was worried at the very beginning when they started by teasing the beef. it made me think they might go the behind the music route, but they didn't at all. i thought it was a great mix of the good times with the bad
the one thing that i wasn't aware of though, was the relationship between Phife and Jarobi. didn't realize that they were that close.
yeah, me too
apart from jarobi being a chef, i didn't really know much about him at all so most of that was new as well
ok, so i think the first really great laugh out loud moment was when they spoke about Tribe's presentation and attire. how did your audience react?
enough laughter that i missed a few sentences of what black thought said after that. there were a few places where lines got lost in bouts of heavy laughter
note to those reading: Matt saw the screening at Tribeca Film Festival, NYC. I saw it at Hot Docs in Toronto
i think phife saying he couldn't kick fruit punch got just as big of a laugh
and when they showed the seaman's furniture commercial. i actually remember seeing those when i first moved to nyc
it was kinda of startling seeing their clothing. i remember it being boho-ish, but not to that extent. it was fantastic
what was the first video of theirs that you saw? cause for me, it wasn't until 'check the rhime.' previous to that, i had just heard them on the radio
so i don't have first hand memory of the clothes being that wild
let's talk native tongues
i had a strong emotional reaction to that part of the doc
especially when de la was introduced. ryan can confirm this...i kinda let out a "yes!"
me too. i get goose bumps when i heard 'buddy.' seriously
so to see that in a theatre w/ 300 people singing along was great
wow...there was one guy in our theathre who was rapping some parts, but to have the audience singing along to Buddy, that's dope
there was lots of singing along w/ our audience. rappaport had told everyone beforehand to get up and dance in the aisles if they wanted so i think that sorta set the mood for high audience participation
were you anticipating seeing more de la? i was
i loved every moment de la was in, and they happened to be in some very important scenes
i'm assuming you're talking about the 'i hope it's their last show' line from dave?
very strong statement
two things that made that stand out so much - pos's reaction when dave said it, and the fact that de la look so relaxed and happy around each other. they still seem like their best friends
quite a contrast
another important scene was Maseo and Q-Tip's discussion
the shot they captured of Ali, was perfect
and what did you read into that? that they were siding w/ tip? or that they were there just trying to diffuse things with the understanding that tip is high-maintenance?
seemed like they were trying to diffuse things
yeah, that's what i thought too
it is another interesting contrast that phife seemed to always be flanked by his wife and family
but tip only had his boys around him
so in regards to the interviews
did anyone stand out to you in particular, with regards to the information or insight they provided?
is there anyone you might have wanted to see less, or more of?
i could've seen more than everyone. it could've been 4 hours long and i wouldn't have gotten bored
one of the things i was struck by is just how funny and engaging most everyone they talk to is
and it makes sense. that's why the music was so engaging. it was being made by intelligent, charismatic people
i was maybe a little struck by how on point pharrel was because i've never been a big fan of his
everyone else, it's exactly what i expected
questlove is always a great interview
prince paul is always funny
i found monie to be a little...grating
she is on her sirius show sometimes too
she made good points i suppose, but...i don't know...i think i'd prefer if she was a little more...classy?
i also found it funny that everyone from the native tongues can talk about how positive and everything they were and not seem to find any irony in mentioning the beatnuts in the same breath
yeah...or Dres. The first Black Sheep album wasn't really that positive
and the second one sucked
i do want an answer as to why prince paul wasn't on midnight maruaders
yeah, that is odd
maybe his invite was lost in the mail
ok, do you think they did a good enough job of covering the musical elements of the band?
given the scope of the documentary and the time limitations, yes
that bit where tip is talking about the drums on 'can i kick it' was one of my favorite parts
i can't wait for the dvd as i've read there's loads more along those lines
and a little section about large professor, which i assume will be pretty music-focussed as well
i really like what Tip had to say about the near absense of melody in the music, and how it's made up for by the rhythm, and lyrics
yeah, that was pretty poignant
i'd also like to hear if tip was a theory on drums
if you go back and listen to the first three albums, he practically never uses fills or anything
they're just on a loop. they'll cut in and out, sometimes other percussion will be laid on top of them, but there's almost never any real changes
personally, i could listen to them talk about the music itself in terms of theory for a whole film
but i don't think that would be all that interesting to non hip-hop geeks
one thing i noticed...they sort of glossed over Beats Rhymes and Life, and The Love Movement
rappaport said they just had to draw the line somewhere
i'm sure they hve a lot of footage discussing those albums in particular, but i would have loved to hear about what went wrong with those albums
and since those albums had much more input from outside the group, that's sorta where it made the most sense to stop
oh ok, so it was addressed during the Q&A?
actually, i think i read that in an interview
he said there was a full ten minutes on beats, rhymes and life that convered jay-dee and consequence that will be included on the dvd
not really the biggest cons fan, but let's keep it moving
a lot of the press, pre-screening hype (trailer) led me to believe that Q-Tip would be villified
how did you feel about him after watching the doc?
no different than i did going on
everyone i know that saw it basically said the same thing. no one in there comes off particularly bad and they can't understand why they wouldn't want it to be seen
like i said, i think most of the film comes off as a feel-good story about the music
that's what people are taking from it more than anything
well, i'll throw this out there
you tell me what you think
i thought Phife came off as overly sensitive
i felt more like he came off as unprofessional than overly sensitive
unprofessional as an interview subject, but i felt he was overly sensitve regarding q-tip
and i don't want to sound cruel, because his condition is a big deal
i just felt more unprofessional as far as the way he seemed to approach his career compared to tip
but I can't imagine (and i could be wrong) that q-tip would be that crude (cruel) to insult him on stage like
i think it might have been a misunderstanding, and Phife maybe used that to air out other issues he was having with Tip
when either of them complained about the other, i always got the sense that it was more about other things than what they were actually arguing about
so that's why i think it's hard to accuse either of them as being dicks or overly sensitive
because i never felt like i really got a sense as to what each was truly upset about
ok, so let's wrap this up
wait...i should add that the blue jacket Q-Tip was wearing in the park....dopeness
with the scarf? figured you'd be all over that
Beats Rhymes Life....
you would recommend this to fans of Tribe, Hip Hop, and music in general?
yeah, when it hits theatres, there will be multiple viewings for me
and i'm already salivating for the dvd w/ all the extras
alright matt...thanks for taking the time to chat with me