You’ve seen tough-talking, vaguely-Irish-looking actor Michael Rapaport around, playing hooligan/ne’er-do-wells in countless films like “Copland,” “Zebrahead,” “True Romance” and Woody Allen’s “Mighty Aphrodite” and “Small Time Crooks.”
But his audience may not realize just how big of a hip-hop fan the man is. So much of one, in fact, that he decided to take the directorial reins to solve an enduring musical riddle: Why did the influential outfit A Tribe Called Quest suddenly disband after only five albums back in 1998?
The result — the Sony Pictures Classics release “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels Of A Tribe Called Quest” — opens in San Francisco on July 15 at the Metreon and Sundance Kabuki.
It was an opportunity no filmmaker could resist — bandmembers Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Jarobi White and Ali Shaheed Muhammed reuniting for a comeback tour in 2008, a full 10 years after their last “The Love Movement” album.
So Rapaport tagged along, cameras in tow, to explore — alongside their incredible talent — their tenuous relationships and unresolved conflicts, which simmer and eventually boil over backstage in — you guessed it — San Francisco.
Along the way, longtime Tribe boosters chime in about them, like Common, Santigold, Pharrell, Mos Def, Kanye West, The Beastie Boys and De La Soul.
For more on Rapaport’s telling travelogue, visit www.sonyclassics.com/beatsrhymesandlife.