Michael Rapaport will be hitting the road this summer with his documentary on hip-hop legends A Tribe Called Quest, "Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest." The roll out across the country starts July 8 in New York City and Los Angeles.
"I'll be all over the place wherever they want to send me," says Rapaport, a first-time director with more than 20 years of acting credits, among them "True Romance," "Mighty Aphrodite" and the TV series "Prison Break."
The film, a Sony Pictures Classics release, will play another 32 cities as it is released to a handful of theaters at a time. "Beats, Rhymes & Life" will play San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, D.C., on its second week, San Diego, Boston, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Atlanta beginning July 22.
The current run ends Aug. 12 when it premieres in 10 cities, among them New Orleans, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. The film will be screened Wednesday (Apr. 27) at the Tribeca Film Festival.
A fan of A Tribe Called Quest since its first recordings in 1989, Rapaport decided the band was worthy of a documentary while he was watching it perform in 1998 at New York's Tramps nightclub. In 2006, while attending a reunion show at L.A.'s Wiltern Theatre, he decided he was the one to do it, financing it with his own credit cards.
"There was no time to wait," he said. "As an actor I have been a part of so many movies that seem like they are about to fall apart. The indie filmmakers who inspire me are the ones who go and do it, no matter what that means. Fortunately since then I have received (some financing)."
Using performances and interviews from the 2008 Rock the Bells festivals that they headlined, the four members of A Tribe Called Quest trace their history from the borough of Queens to the formation of the group in 1988 and the release of five albums between 1990 and 1998. Considered the most artistically ambitious rap group of the 1990s, "Beats, Rhymes & Life" is also the title of Tribe's only No. 1 album on the Billboard Top 200.
Since the film's debut at the Sundance Film Festival three months ago, Tribe leader Q-Tip has sent out mixed messages about the film, saying he had problems with it and that ATCQ fans should go see it.
"The differences Tip had, I think, came down to the fact that he's an artist and a perfectionist who is always in control," Rapaport says, calling ATCQ the "Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin of first generation hip-hop." "He was the leader of Tribe. But I'm making the movie and I have to make the final decisions. He's accustomed to making all of the decisions. I have thought about it a lot and if somebody made a movie as interpersonal as this about me, I don't know that I'd be pleased with someone else making the decisions. To me, it's a love letter to the band."
Here is the theatrical release schedule for "Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest":
Century City 15
Criterion Santa Monica
Ritz Center Voorhees
SAN FRANCISCO - ADD ONS
Century Mountain View
CineArts Santana Row San Jose
Lincoln Square Bellevue
Regal South Beach
AMC Studio Olathe
SALT LAKE CITY
Chelsea Chapel Hill