' ' Cinema Romantico: Beats, Rhymes & Life, and A Movie I Really, Really Want To See

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Beats, Rhymes & Life, and A Movie I Really, Really Want To See

When I was soaking in the sun in Hawaii last May my friend Becky explained that it is a woman's nature to always want to show off her newest piece of clothing whereas it is a man's nature to always want to show off his oldest piece of clothing, as if it is a matter of pride, a badge of honor. I had to laugh, and I did, and then I explained to Becky that, in fact, I had packed my oldest piece of clothing for the Hawaii trip. Of course, I did! It's the iron man! It goes everywhere with me!

My Tribe Called Quest tee shirt.

I love my Tribe Called Quest tee shirt. In the time since I purchased the Tribe Called Quest tee shirt Kate Winlset would star in her first movie, Google would be founded, and A Tribe Called Quest would both break up and re-unite. In Hawaii I stopped by a bookstore to purchase a new novel for my return flight and the woman working the counter complimented me on my Tribe Called Quest tee shirt. Honest to God.

Best rap group ever? They get my vote.
It stands for a time when A Tribe Called Quest was my favorite band, a time when they knew me better than Bruce. Oh, I rant and rave about Springsteen and those fine-tuned, literary Springsteen lyrics but let's be frank. Bruce has never summarized who I am and how I feel better than Tift Merritt did in "When I Cross Over" nor better then Phife Dawg did in "Buggin' Out" - the greatest rap song ever recorded. (Listen to it. Listen to it right now and tell me the two things you don't hear. What don't you hear? Swearing and shout-outs, that's what you don't hear. Not once. Let's see you do that, Kanye.)

At the start of the second verse Phife Dawg raps the following:

When you bug out you usually have a reason for the action
Sometimes you don't it's just for mere satisfaction
People be houndin', always surroundin'
Pulsin', just like a migraine poundin'
You don't really fret, you stay in your sense
Comafied your feeling of absolute tense
You soar off to another world deep in your mind
But some people seem to take that as being unkind

When my sixteen year old ears heard that I was blown away. Bloooooooooown away. It still blows me away. How a five foot three black guy from Queens could so capably sketch a portrait in one stanza of how a complete idiot from Iowa felt about things is beyond me but that doesn't really matter. He did it. Thank God.

All this is an exceptionally long way of saying that just this past week I learned the actor turned director Michael Rapaport debuted a documentary at cinematic-related gala in Utah known as Sundance, a documentary titled: "Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels Of A Tribe Called Quest." To quote Tribe: "Oh My God, Yes, Oh My God!" I'm more excited to see this than I was to see "The Promise"!

To me, Tribe is The Beatles of rap. Not necessarily because when they were on their game (their first 3 albums) they were in a stratosphere none of their contemporaries could top and none of their followers have approached - though they were - but because like John, Paul, George and Ringo, Q Tip, Phife Dawg and Ali Shaheed Muhammad were never better then when they were all together. I like rap music where two rappers flow back & forth together and no one flowed back & forth better than Q Tip and Phife Dawg. But, of course, rappers also tend to have glacier-sized egos and Tribe was no different, especially Phife who at the aforementioned height of 5'3 no doubt had a little Napoleon Complex goin' on. Phife always threw out more disses ("Your styles are incomplete same as Vinny Testaverde") in his verses than Q Tip, who preferred awesomely abstract verbiage ("My optic presentation sizzles the retina"), did and perhaps this could be traced back to the fact that Q Tip always had more verses than Phife. Q Tip starred in movies and dated Nicole Kidman and Phife......uh......well...... Granted, Phife did and continues to deal with the effects of diabetes but that just isn't the sort of thing that gets you in US Weekly.

Tensions ran mighty high in that band and continue to run high as evidenced by its Sundance premiere, a premiere which only Phife Dawg attended (and where he got a wee bit emotional) after apparently Q Tip threatened to remove his support from the film after seeing an early version of it which no doubt painted him in a light for which he did not care. In the words of The L.A. Times: "the movie also tackles more somber subject matter, vividly illustrating the internal power struggles, egocentrism and battles of will that ultimately resulted in Tribe’s demise in 1998 – the depths of which even the group’s longtime listeners may have never known."

That's why someone out there in Park City needs to pony up and get this thing distributed so I can see it ASAP.


Jacob said...

The golden boy tee. Of course, you gotta love it.

Nick Prigge said...

"This is goldenboy's son, baby blue."

I'm still trying to decide if the Prefonatine tee shirt or the Ra Ra Riot tee shirt is the Tribe Called Quest tee shirt's son. Perhaps it had twins?