Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Fow a while now, I've been following Questlove, drummer for The Roots, on Twitter.  Read a whole bunch of interviews with him, too. He has this really nice combo of humor and a serious ability to reflect on and analyze music and its relationship to everything else in life.

In addition to catching him on his nightly gig with The Roots on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, I've seen him live twice.  The first time, he was a panelist at the premier screening of the VHI rock doc Soul Train: The Hippest Trip in America (see my post on it HERE).  Given the huge role that Soul Train played in his own life, Ahmir made for a fantastic presenter at this Paley Center event.

The second time I saw - and briefly met - Ahmir was last week at an event to promote his new book Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove.  At Powerhouse Books in Dumbo, Ahmir answered questions posed by both his co-author Ben Greenman and by audience members.

Questlove first shared his reluctance to write the book. "I thought my story would be boring, " he stated.  [Wait.  What??!! ] He continued:  "My life has not been mired in the narrative of drugs and violence where I was saved by music."  

He also expanded upon his reputation for having an incredible musical memory, one where he refers to particular songs to recall moments in his own personal history.  The first time he heard guitarist Bill Withers, at age 2, is when he cut his left hand pretending to play a glass guitar-shaped ashtray.

As the son of a singer, Ahmir grew up steeped in music.  His parents pretty much eliminated television in order to make room for music.  His childhood home contained a 5000+ record collection, one which reflected the particular tastes of each member of the family.

Questlove remembers 1996 as being a turning point in the life of Hip Hop.  "It's when Adam and Eve bit into the Apple: Hip Hop discovered consumer culture."

Here's an abbreviated, paraphrased recap of  the audience Q and A portion of the evening:

Q:  What are you listening to now?

A: Comedy records, including Tig Notaro. 

Q:  Who would be part of your dream music collaboration?

A:  Bill Withers.

Q:  What do you think of Kanye West's new album, Yeezus.

A: You have to listen to live with an album for a month before you pass judgement on it.

Q: What do you hope to have written four years from now?

A: I am writing a book about Soul Train.

Q:  How do you have time to do everything you do?  [Ed Note: In addition to being a drummer, Ahmir is a DJ, music journalist, record producer, and joint frontman for the The Roots, which is the in-house band for Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.}

A: I will answer this question in 10 words or less:


Post Script: The day after the PowerHouse event, Ahmir tweeted: "First day of summer. Sick. :( " and I tweeted back: "The world needs you well-rested, good man."

I wanna see this guy live a good, long life.

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