A Tribe Called Quest were approached with the idea of doing a documentary, and they couldn’t have been happier with the producer. Fellow Queens native Nas first introduced the idea of capturing the story of one of hip-hop’s greatest groups of all time.
But by the time filming began, Nas receded into the background as actor Michael Rapaport took control of the project.
” ‘I want to shoot a documentary on you,’ ” Q-Tip told MTV News, recalling a conversation with Rapaport. “I had already breached Nas with the guys, and everyone was loving that idea. So I was thinking in my head … It’d be great to have someone we respect tell our story, who’s a part of it as well, and then Mike’s enthusiasm. I spoke to everyone about it. It was some hesitation [about Rapaport's involvement]. … I think it was because Nas had initiated it.”
Jarobi, who joined Sway by phone, added: “The Nas involvement kind of sweetened the deal for everybody.”
According to Tribe DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad, his reservations came from Rapaport not being part of the hip-hop community.
“My hesitation was purely from a position that we’re bringing someone from the outside to be a part of the inside life,” he said. “We have to make sure that people understand who this family is and capture it and deliver it the same way we live our lives. It didn’t matter if it was a rapper or not. Nas being part of it is good, ’cause it’s someone from the inside who, from a producer’s perspective, makes sure everything is what it’s supposed to be.”
The project has been controversial, with Q-Tip speaking out against Rapaport and the actor still moving forward with the doc, called “Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest.”
Tip said the friction stemmed in part from the group’s lack of control over the story, despite being listed as producers. An e-mail from the production team was inadvertently sent Tip’s way, the rapper told MTV News, detailing plans to silence the group. That was one too many red flags for him.
“All of this stuff is going on, and we’re still trying to move forward in good faith, and we see this e-mail, inadvertently, which was a godsend,” he said. “I believe that that was the universe giving that to us and showing us who we were dealing with.”
Stick with MTV News all week as we reveal more of our interview with A Tribe Called Quest and their concerns about the “Beats, Rhymes and Life” documentary.