Michael Rapaport’s Documentary on A Tribe called Quest opens in San Francisco at the Sundance Kabuki Theatre and the Metreon Theatre on Friday, July 15th.
Filmbalaya: There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this movie, mainly with Q-Tip not being happy in how he was portrayed in the film. Could you speak on that and clear the air?
Michael Rapaport: Yeah, I think the way Q-tip comes off in the film is great. He comes off passionate, he comes off smart, he comes off like a musical genius. I think I would be doing a disservice to A Tribe Called Quest, I think I would be doing a disservice to anybody who saw the film, and I’d be doing a huge disservice to myself if I try to portray anybody, anyone, no matter who it is, as perfect or unflawed. I’m certainly not perfect, and I’m certainly not unflawed and we wouldn’t be sitting her doing a proper press junket with a proper movie poster if the movie was just about how great the music is. That would be a half-hour DVD extra. We wouldn’t be sitting here if there wasn’t any sort of emotional attachment other than the music. It was unpredicted and obviously I couldn’t plot that out and plan that out. I know that I adore A Tribe Called Quest. I respect them, I respect their place in history musically, and I wouldn’t want anyone to take low-blows at me. I think the film is balanced.
More of the interview plus trailer after the jump
You know, Q-Tip is a perfectionist, and I don’t mean this in any disrespectful way but he didn’t want to let of go any of the albums. Like Chris Lighty (Ex-manager of ATCQ) said, he could have been Dr.Dre or Axl Rose if you let him do it. If I let Q-Tip have control of the movie we wouldn’t be done now because he cares so much about what he’s doing. I didn’t make the movie FOR A Tribe Called Quest, I Made the movie ABOUT A Tribe Called Quest. It wasn’t like I was making this movie for just four guys, I was doing it for the fans, and in doing that there’s going to be some bumps in the road.
Filmbalaya: I read somewhere that you set out to make the quintessential rap tour album, but obviously it turned into something else. Do you still have plans to do that in the near future, and if so, with which MC, or group?
MR: I’m taking a little break from hip hop documentaries right now. If I was going to do another documentary about a hip hop group I would love to explore De La Soul. Their music is so colorful and vibrant and has a lot of subtle depth, and their enigmas. They never stop touring, they never stop recording, they’re funny individually and I think they’re fascinating too. So I would love to take on De La Soul. I would also love to take on Eric B and Rakim.
I mean, all these groups are worthy of a documentary the same way Jimi Hendrix has been documented, The Doors have been documented, The Rolling Stones have been documented. All these groups deserve to have their story be told. I mean who the fuck wouldn’t want to see an Eric B and Rakim documentary?! I’d be there the first day to see that.
Filmbalaya: Being that we only have 2 minutes left, I have 2 questions left for Phife. One, I was wondering how you thought you were portrayed in the film, especially with all of your personal stuff being out there for everybody to see and two, who are your top 5 MCs, lyricists or rappers of all time?
MR: Good question.
Phife Dawg: I’ll answer the second question first. Top 5 MCs are KRS One, Slick Rick, LL Cool J… hmm… Nas and Grand Puba. He (Grand Puba) was always one of my favorites, definitely. But you see, that’s the type of question where you have to give me like 25. You know what I mean, because there’s Busta, Redman…
MR: There are so many.
PD: … And then there are groups. There’s De La, Brand Nubian..
MR: And then within the group…
Filmbalaya: Just the Wu-Tang Clan alone.
PD: Fuck, Ghostface is definitely on my list too!
But as far as the first question goes, (how you thought you were portrayed in the film, especially with all of your personal stuff being out there for everybody to see?) I’m a very discreet individual, you know what I mean?
MR: Not anymore.
PD: I don’t put my business out there, but for whatever reason this dude right here (pointing towards Michael) made it very ease for me to be candid and just say what it is I wanted to say, and besides, it’s a documentary. I felt very at home, especially because he came to my house and filmed me. Being that I’m at home, I was at home when speaking to him as well, so it was very easy transactions.
My whole thing is… there was a time back in 06, 07, where I felt like that was it for me, like I wasn’t going to be around much longer, at least that’s how I felt. Because I am here, that means that I’m here for a reason, and maybe that reason is to put out new music as a soloist, put out new music as a member of A Tribe Called Quest, conquer all my sports and film endeavours, and then if I helped one person with whatever they were going through - cancer, diabetes, kidney failure, whathaveyou – then I’ll feel like I’ve done something with myself. So, I felt like this was the perfect outlet to put it out there and tell people this is what I’ve been through.
I didn’t do it to be the star of the film or the life of the party. At the end of the day I really didn’t want that attention because I went through a lot and I don’t even really like thinking about it, but like I said, I’m not in this alone. There are a lot of people who are going through that, and if I can help those individuals by them seeing this movie and going on living their lives then I feel like I’ve done something worthy of talking about or bragging about.