The story of A Tribe Called Quest is a common one among music acts. Childhood friends grow up, form a group and become famous recording artists; then one of the members rises above others in terms of fame or ego, they have a falling out and the group breaks up. Oftentimes, as is the case with Tribe, the longtime pals end up estranged. As Tribe rapper Phife Dawg reminds us, it's the same thing that happened with the Supremes and the Jackson 5.
In spite of its familiar overlying narrative, though, the new documentary about the rap group, lengthily titled 'Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest,' is still an excellent look at the past, present and possible future of one of the most influential hip hop acts of all time. Directed very inquisitively and skillfully by actor-turned-filmmaker Michael Rapaport ('True Romance'), it starts out rather conventionally and builds into one of the most engaging music docs in years.