Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Nathan Rabin
    Jul 13, 2011
    Poignant and powerful, complex and melancholy, the film ends with rehearsals for yet another money-grubbing comeback tour.
  2. Reviewed by: Camille Dodero
    Jul 5, 2011
    Despite the passive-aggressive bickering, Beats, Rhymes & Life is not, thankfully, hip-hop's "Some Kind of Monster."
  3. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Jul 14, 2011
    The best material, however, keeps returning to the unstable power dynamic between Q-Tip and Dawg.
  4. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Jul 7, 2011
    Showing the uneasiness of a first-time documentarian, Rapaport has a difficult time exploring the drama. That has extended beyond the movie itself and into a long-running media dispute with Q-Tip, who has refused to plug the movie.
  5. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Jul 2, 2011
    Beats is a welcome blast of '90s nostalgia, taking us back to a time - and a sound - that pulsates with optimism.
  6. Reviewed by: Randy Cordova
    Aug 6, 2011
    Thanks to a particularly even-handed job by director Michael Rapaport, the story emerges as compelling, even for non-fans in the audience.
  7. Reviewed by: Jonah Weiner
    Jul 13, 2011
    Like "Anvil!," Sacha Gervasi's 2008 documentary about two lovable, bickering metalheads, Beats, Rhymes & Life is a music documentary with a buddy-movie heart.
  8. Reviewed by: Andy Webster
    Jul 9, 2011
    The actor Michael Rapaport (Brad Pitt's roommate in "True Romance"), in his feature directorial debut, does an admirable job recounting the group's formation and dissecting its dissolution.
  9. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Jul 8, 2011
    Even those who never joined the cult of A Tribe Called Quest will find this clear-eyed chronicle of their career irresistible.
  10. Reviewed by: Mark Olsen
    Jul 7, 2011
    It is at its most vibrant when re-creating the energy of Tribe's original moment in the late '80s and early '90s, when the musicians brought a spirited, playful artfulness to the sometimes drearily self-serious world of hip-hop.
  11. 75
    Despite accusations of nearly succumbing to spotlighting beefs over beats, the film comes off as an honest representation of a great group that's not to be forgotten.
  12. 75
    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.
  13. Reviewed by: David Malitz
    Jul 21, 2011
    The lines are drawn early on in "Beats," which is surprisingly tense and combative given the overwhelmingly positive and playful music in the band's catalogue. But that makes what could have been a sappy, fanboy loveletter a compelling look at the group's inner workings.
  14. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Jul 21, 2011
    On the one hand, welcome to the music business. On the other, if A Tribe Called Quest can't stay together who can? It's a worry that eventually gets at the eccentricity of both the music and the movie.
  15. Reviewed by: Peter Hartlaub
    Jul 14, 2011
    Tribe superfan Rapaport doesn't fawn, but he juggles too much, and the ending feels pat. It's still an outstanding effort, and one of the more honest band biopics in recent years.
  16. Reviewed by: Ben Sachs
    Jul 14, 2011
    Rapaport keeps things lively with a hip-hop-tinged aesthetic, shuffling rhythmically between old and new footage. However engaging, though, the visuals have little to say about Tribe's legacy when compared with the original score, contributed by the great producer Madlib.
  17. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    Jul 28, 2011
    White couldn't stay away, and neither can the band's legions of fans, who bop up and down in sold-out arenas at the reunion tour that provides the film's hopeful coda.
  18. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Jul 8, 2011
    Perhaps because he's an actor, Rapaport prefers drama to analysis. And this story has plenty of conflict.
  19. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Aug 12, 2011
    It continuously feels less like straight-up reportage and more like a fan film, one built on equal parts idol worship and wishful thinking.
  20. Reviewed by: V.A. Musetto
    Jul 8, 2011
    A must for hip-hop heads. Others will either be won over or left wondering what all the fuss is about.
  21. Reviewed by: Andrew Schenker
    Jul 2, 2011
    Even as an "18 months later" epilogue ensures us that everything's hunky dory, this is one surprisingly grim celebration of a group Rapaport obviously loves.
  22. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Jul 2, 2011
    Though it may not have much of an audience beyond the band's fan base, it offers enough context to serve as a primer on the hugely influential Native Tongues clique and should have life on home-vid.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 16 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Mar 6, 2012
    Unless you don't like A Tribe Called Quest or you're uninterested in Hip Hop and Rap history, you have no reason not to see this. This movieUnless you don't like A Tribe Called Quest or you're uninterested in Hip Hop and Rap history, you have no reason not to see this. This movie illustrates the timeline of A Tribe Called Quest from highs to lows. It's a fresh documentary that will certainly put a smile on your face. The only problem with this documentary is the lack of explanation. For example, lack of music construction. While, yes, there is Q-Tip explaining how this or that song started with this or that loop, but outside of that, there isn't really much. Which is a shame because A Tribe Called Quest had some of the best loops and whatnot. Nonetheless, this is a documentary for all. Highly recommended if you were into 90's Hip Hop and Rap. 9/10 Full Review »
  2. Jan 21, 2012
    A good watch for someone who doesnâ
  3. j30
    Nov 8, 2011
    Fantastic documentary that makes you realize how much you miss early 90's Hip Hop acts like De La Soul and how bad Hip Hop has been since TCQFantastic documentary that makes you realize how much you miss early 90's Hip Hop acts like De La Soul and how bad Hip Hop has been since TCQ left the game. Full Review »