I was about one year and nine months old when The Low End Theory was released in September of 1991. I am not exactly sure what music I was listening to at that age if any. I was living in another country and I couldn’t even walk! However, a few years down the road of life I would come in to contact with this album and furthermore the group known as A Tribe Called Quest. From that point on my life and music tastes would change forever. The Low End Theory was my introduction if you will into Jazz music and an alternative form of Hip-Hop that I never expected to hear from such a masculine and flashy genre. Forward to the present times and the tribe is no longer together, the group hasn’t released a single album in over ten years, and Mike Rappaport is making his directorial debut in his first documentary following the tribe.
The main reason for the documentary follows the concept on why the Tribe broke up despite a 2008 reunion tour to help raise money for Phife Dawg’s kidney transplant. The film is sincere and honest to what is really going on between the members. At the tipping point you have two childhood friends, Q-tip and Phife Dawg, at each other’s necks due to their budding interests within and outside of music. Then you have Ali Shaheed Muhammed, the member stuck in the middle of the two disputing members, as well as, Jarobi, the man who opted out of the group early on and choose a path that coincided more with his personal interests, a chef. A majority of all of the narrative is given by Tribe members and numerous musical celebrities sharing their memories and feelings about Tribes impact on their lives. ATCQ‘s impact on Hip-Hop and people’s lives is nothing short of legendary. If a young guy like myself who was barely almost 2 years old when Tribe released their second album can speak of the album as if I was there the day it was released then that speaks far louder than any words I can ever type to describe their impact.
Mike Rappaport is able to showcase Tribe’s history as a group, as individuals, and as members of society. The documentary truly resonated with audience members like myself because we got to witness the members as far more then entertainers, but rather human beings with real-life issues. In these days and times it is difficult for people to view celebrities and entertainers as something more then what we’re used to, but at the end of the day these are people just trying to make a living just like us.
Q-Tip and Phife Dawg’s relationship is witnessed as a struggle between two musical artists on one hand Tip is the perfectionist who embodies and incorporates music into his everyday life, on the other hand, we have Phife Dawg a forty year old diabetic who wants nothing more than to enjoy time with his family and watch his favorite sports like any another average American male. The two are great artist in their own rights, but you bring these two forces together and you create the legendary group we know as A Tribe Called Quest.
This documentary catered to fans old and new of the tribe and even included a deeper more detailed look into the groups history and group dynamics as a whole. This film was a treat for any music fan that featured a full fledged dispute between band mates as audiences have never witnessed before. Although, the Tribe may not be acting like one at the moment, I am happy with the fact that deep down Tip and Phife truly do still care about one another. Besides you got to remember A Tribe Called Quest still has one album left to record on their contract with Jive Records!