This authorized documentary is more of a celebration of the legendary Queens quartet than a serious exploration of their art. But considering how brilliant they were at their peak, it's hard to disagree with the general sentiment.
- Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, September 15, 2011
Maybe I'm just a sucker for good old fashioned hip-hop, but I found Michael Rapaport's totally-by-the-numbers music doco [Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest] absolutely compelling.
- Simon Miraudo, Quickflix, August 17, 2011
This documentary therefore did exactly what a good music doco should do: brought people like me up to speed and, according to reports from more serious hip hop fans in the audience, provided lots of information that wasn't previously well known.
- Thomas Caldwell, Cinema Autopsy, August 13, 2011
Rapaport gets at the dynamics of a group that struggles even now to get along well enough to get paid - again.
- Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel, August 09, 2011
A combination of timing, access, a visual aesthetic that reflects ATCQ's Afrocentric "surface philosophy" (as the crew's look is described) and, most importantly, story-conscious editing elevates the doc above the norm.
- Jennie Punter, Globe and Mail, August 05, 2011
Thanks to a particularly even-handed job by director Michael Rapaport, the story emerges as compelling, even for non-fans in the audience.
- Randy Cordova, Arizona Republic, August 04, 2011
The movie gets the beats and rhymes down pat, but the life part is a little messy. Oh well, two out of three ain't bad.
- Adam Graham, Detroit News, July 29, 2011
The emotional honesty Rapaport captures on screen comes off as real, a cut above standard-issue Behind the Music drama in terms of believability.
- Dan DeLuca, Philadelphia Inquirer, July 21, 2011
Somewhat against the odds, Rapaport manages to parlay his access and sycophancy into the plaint of a concerned fan: Please, fellas, squash this.
- Wesley Morris, Boston Globe, July 21, 2011
Even as the band implodes, "Beats" flows as smoothly as Q-Tip on "Verses From the Abstract." It's the tension between the group's core members that really propels the film forward.
- David Malitz, Washington Post, July 15, 2011
An outstanding effort, and one of the more honest band biopics in recent years.
- Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle, July 14, 2011
A reminder, part "Behind the Music" and part something better, that even artists professing love and togetherness have a hard time keeping it going.
- Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune, July 09, 2011
Rapaport, a longtime Quest fan, clearly admires Tip. He's just too forthright a storyteller to bury the tale of the quartet's acrimonious unraveling.
- Mark Jenkins, NPR, July 08, 2011
Even those who never joined the cult of A Tribe Called Quest will find this clear-eyed chronicle of their career irresistible.
- Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News, July 08, 2011
Rapaport, in his feature directorial debut, does an admirable job recounting the group's formation and dissecting its dissolution.
- Andy Webster, New York Times, July 08, 2011
"Beats, Rhymes & Life" is a must for hip-hop heads. Others will either be won over or left wondering what all the fuss is about.
- V.A. Musetto, New York Post, July 08, 2011
The film serves both as a welcome document and reminder of the group in its prime, while also creating a portrait of lives still in motion, grown men trying to move on from yet respect the work of their younger selves.
- Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times, July 07, 2011
There are scenes toward the end of the movie that hint at a fuzzier tomorrow for Tribe, but you leave appreciating the music as it was, not hoping for anything else.
- Andrew Matson, Seattle Times, July 28, 2011
Rapaport smartly focuses on the yin-and-yang duo of Q-Tip and Phife Dawg, the group's lead rappers, and a fascinating study in contrasts.
- Nathan Rabin, AV Club, July 11, 2011
But unlike so many movies about the rise and fall of successful bands, this one manages to capture the thrill of discovery that A Tribe Called Quest enjoyed, at least in their early years.
- Alonso Duralde, The Wrap, July 07, 2011