Movie Review Commentary: Beats, Rhymes and Life the Travels of a Tribe Called Quest
I saw Beats, Rhymes and Life the Travels of a Tribe Called Quest and I realized that what is passed off as a documentary has become so formal and thus formulaic that the whole paradigm of what one should expect from a documentary, photographically and narratively has got to be changed. There was no reason for such positive Black story to be so mishandled (from an aesthetic perspective– not even getting into how Michael Rappaport did them dirty on the business side).
A Tribe Called Quest is one of the Black community’s cultural treasures and it was sad to see them treated as if they were only worthy of a soap opera that didn’t even go in depth into what makes them important– THEIR MUSIC. Literally half the movie was about the beef between Phife and Tip, which doesn’t even seem to exist anymore. Plus it looked like it was shot on a phone.
The animation was dope though, so props to whoever did that. This film was also an excellent reminder of ATCQ’s genius and a reminder about how we don’t have anything like that anymore in Black music from the male perspective. We don’t have male Black musicians pushing the FORM en masse like it used to be.
I recently watched Art 21, a show about contemporary artists. William Kentridge was on and he was talking about how he decided never to write a script or storyboard or really prepare in any formal way for making his films (they are animated) and I thought about how much preparation, planning, scripting, concepting, story boarding and just life and creative energy has gone into HWUF. On the other end of the process, when the art is done, you can’t actually feel any of that preparation. No one knows or cares…you as the artist don’t even care.
So I think after this film is done I’m gonna improvise a feature film, shoot it on film and do all the edits in camera. What you will see, is the film played out as it was shot, the way William Kentridge approached the animation. I’m pretty sure I will do that, it will take about a month I think.