Ali Shaheed Muhammad Sounds Off on A Tribe Called Quest Documentary

Ali Shaheed Muhammad Sounds Off on A Tribe Called Quest Documentary
Beats Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest is beginning to make its way across North American theatres. Rather than being released on a mass scale, it will be rolled out across the U.S. one city at a time to be available in ten markets by mid-August. The film has already screened in Toronto's Hot Docs festival, but Canadian release dates have not been scheduled.

The hotly anticipated documentary has been the subject of controversy from its subjects and fans of the group. Tribe leader Q-Tip has been especially vocal in his dissatisfaction with the final product.

Exclaim! caught up with fellow Tribesman Ali Shaheed Muhammad in Montreal and asked him: does the documentary do Tribe justice? Muhammad chose his words carefully.

"I think it's decent," Muhammad says. "What I would like to have seen from it, and this is one of the issues that Q-Tip and I have had with the director, is that we felt that -- we're perfectionists in everything we do and we understand the culture and we understand the art form, we understood ourselves and we felt the music was not -- he didn't spend enough time on the composition, on the music. Periods of music that we were pulling from was as important as the way we compiled it, what we pulled away and sampled. He would say 'I've only got 90 minutes to get it done, I gotta shorten it up.' I felt there was too much time on the bickering and not enough time on the musicality of it. But other than that it's pretty fair."

This seems to fit with the description of the feud given by the film's director Michael Rapaport to Billboard in April.

"The differences Tip had, I think, came down to the fact that he's an artist and a perfectionist who is always in control," said Rapaport at the time. "He was the leader of Tribe. But I'm making the movie and I have to make the final decisions."

Watch the trailer to Beats Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest below, and stay tuned for Exclaim!'s full interview Muhammad.