I saw Questlove on The Daily Show. I knew who he was in a general way—in fact, are my favorite sticks when I’m playing—but I hadn’t, to the best of my knowledge, ever heard a single thing by The Roots. Ever.
Thinking back on it, my memory of the interview was that it was a little awkward. Re-watching it just now, though, suggests that my memory is shot to shit—I mean, I didn’t even remember that it was John Oliver, and while it was a low-key interview, it wasn’t really awkwardness per se, or at least not on Questlove’s part.
Regardless, it convinced me to buy the book.
I was a third of the way through it, when I realized that I had to by a copy of it for my friend Paul for a couple of reasons.
The first is because Paul is two months younger than me, and Questlove is a month younger than that—so when Questlove is talking about his childhood, it resonated with me surprisingly strongly. I mean, no, I was not black, nor was I growing up in Philly, but we share a passion for music, and many of the musical touchstones of his childhood are ones that I remember, even if they weren’t quite as much a part of my cultural identity. I mean, I didn’t really come to an appreciation of Parliament until I was in my 30s (incidentally, I’m going to see them at the end of the month), but there are Earth, Wind and Fire albums that I have known down to the note as far back as I can remember. I remember Soul Train in the 70’s, though I mostly remember just being…baffled, it was that far outside of my experience.
Anyway, that was the first reason—we’re all contemporaries, and I figured Paul would feel a kinship with many of those same things.
The second, of course, is because Paul owned a hip-hop club in Atlanta in the 90’s. And so I sorta wondered if he had ever met Questlove. In fact, he and his wife knew the whole band. Not fast friends or anything, but they knew them.
Anyway, I think this is probably my favorite book I’ve read so far this year. It’s interesting to read his perspective on the roots of hip-hop, about which I know relatively little—I’ve always been a rock and roll baby. It’s hilarious to read his meetings with Kiss and Prince and Tracy Morgan. it’s profound to read how The Roots are grappling with trying to be a band after 40.
If you care about music even a little bit, why haven’t you already read this book?