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kottke.org posts about Questlove

Questlove is DJing Up a Storm During Quarantine

posted by Jason Kottke   May 15, 2020

Most nights since mid-March, The Roots’ Questlove has been doing lengthy DJ sets for fans, kind of like a series of distributed house parties. The shows range in length from 2.5 hours to more than 6 hours — most are in the 3-4 hour range. The past shows have been collected in this playlist. The most recent show, from Tuesday, celebrated the 70th birthday of Stevie Wonder:

He did a 3-hour set made up of audience requests:

And of course there were sets focused on particular artists and bands — the Beastie Boys, James Brown, and Prince:

From a Fast Company piece about how The Roots have adapted their approach to entertainment during the pandemic:

“My whole narrative is that I’m this musical griot or this musical expert with 170,000 pieces of vinyl that you can Google, but now that I’m thrown in the pool, I realized, yeah, I have 170,000 records, but at the end of the day, I know maybe 400.”

Questlove has digital access to about 30% of that massive collection and decided to get to know more of his songs in front of a live audience. It’s different when that audience is the internet, but Questlove gets it now. He can reach more people. He’s having fun with his selections, and his diverse and meticulous approach to music shows up in his nightly playlists.

“I challenged myself to do a dancehall set that didn’t require me to play ‘Murder She Wrote.’ I’m gonna try and do the salsa set that doesn’t require me to play like ‘Suavemente,’ all the Captain Obvious stuff,” he explains. “So, I mean just as a music lover and a musician, it’s challenging me to find exciting ways to present music.”

Questlove’s book about food and creativity

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 15, 2016

something to food about

Questlove is coming out with a book about food and creativity next month called something to food about.

In conversations with ten innovative chefs in America, he explores what makes their creativity tick, how they see the world through their cooking and how their cooking teaches them to see the world. The conversations begin with food but they end wherever food takes them. Food is fuel. Food is culture. Food is history. And food is food for thought.

Love that cover.

That time that Prince ditched Questlove in favor of Finding Nemo

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 20, 2016

Questlove tells some great stories — I’m partial to the one about Will Smith’s house — and this story about his attempt to DJ for Prince and how a Pixar movie intervened is top notch.

Questlove: Trayvon Martin and I Ain’t Shit

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 16, 2013

The Roots’ Questlove has some powerful thoughts on the Trayvon Martin verdict:

I’m in scenarios all the time in which primitive, exotic-looking me — six-foot-two, 300 pounds, uncivilized Afro, for starters — finds himself in places where people who look like me aren’t normally found. I mean, what can I do? I have to be somewhere on Earth, correct? In the beginning — let’s say 2002, when the gates of “Hey, Ahmir, would you like to come to [swanky elitist place]?” opened — I’d say “no,” mostly because it’s been hammered in my DNA to not “rock the boat,” which means not making “certain people” feel uncomfortable.

I mean, that is a crazy way to live. Seriously, imagine a life in which you think of other people’s safety and comfort first, before your own. You’re programmed and taught that from the gate. It’s like the opposite of entitlement.

Reading about this case and the reaction to it has been a series of gut punches this week.

?uestlove to teach class about classic albums

posted by Aaron Cohen   Oct 18, 2012

The Roots drummer, ?uestlove, will be schooling kids left and right this spring as he teaches a class on classic albums at NYU. It’s too bad this isn’t a high school class so my Young MC ‘Principal’s Office’ reference would fit better.

The course will include lectures on albums such as Sly & The Family Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On, Aretha Franklin’s Lady Soul, Led Zeppelin’s IV, Prince’s Dirty Mind, Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall, and the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique.

They’ll also cover what constitutes a “classic” or “seminal” album, looking at the music, lyrics, production, and business behind great albums.

Billboard reports that the course was inspired by an NPR blog post over the summer where an intern reviewed Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back, an album he’d never heard before. ?uestlove responded to the dismissive review in the comments, prompting NYU’s Jason King to invite ?uestlove and Weinger to teach the course.

David Chang and Questlove’s fried chicken battle

posted by Aaron Cohen   Mar 25, 2012

4 things I’m interested in: The Roots, David Chang, fried chicken, and Twitter feuds between chefs and musicians, which is why I was so excited to see Questlove of the Roots and David Chang of Momofuku go back and forth last Wednesday. In the past, Questlove has criticized Momofuku’s fried chicken game, and now that Questo’s in the game himself, Chang feels a competition on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon is in order. The specifics and timing of the throwdown have not been defined, but one thing is clear, in a fried chicken battle between Questlove and David Chang there is at least one winner (wait for it): all of us.

Questlove’s celebrity stories

posted by Aaron Cohen   Aug 22, 2011

I missed this last summer when it went around originally, but all of Questlove’s celebrity stories are collected here. I had to post it at the end of the day because if this is relevant to your interests, and I think it may be, it’s going to run roughshod over your productivity.

David Letterman

thing is…i know they brought me in for the freakish factor. but only dave bothered to ask me what do i do in real life….so when i told him he was shocked like “wait you are an established artist?” even funnier was the reference “so if this like us picking up george clintons bass player thinking we got a random freaky guy and we messed around and got an icon?”—-i was flattered and said “lets hope you still feel that way when its time for my album to come out”

I’m pretty sure the Eddie Murphy story features Prince, but it’s too long to even excerpt.

Phil Collins

i “organixed” the shit outta phil in 97 at the grammies when i told him some geek shit like you and stevie wonder are the best ride cymbal crashers in modern rock after bonham. i told him “do you know do you care” shows that example in his cymbal work. man i made his day with that one.

Here’s Quest talking about Will Smith’s house. So you know Questlove isn’t easily impressed, this is the same Will Smith whose house was recently featured on the cover of Architectural Digest.

I’m telling you, the whole site is gold. Read everything.

For more Questlove awesome, see his recent interview on Pitchfork. Read everything there, too. It’s great.

(Thanks, Keith)