Afro with the iconic fist comb in it, drumming nightly on Jimmy Fallon, this is what most people nowadays know Questlove and The Roots for. But they are so much more, being a part of hip hop culture for 30 years. The Roots are one of the most influential music groups in multiple genres but most notably hip hop. Operating since 1987, first as the Square Roots, then just The Roots, this band has had multiple members during its time. This list though, is dedicated to one of its two founders, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson. Born in 1971, in Philadelphia, he was the child of musicians (both of his parents were members of a doo-wop group in the 1950s) growing up around various instruments. But it was the drums that truly called to Quest, as his parents took him on tour with them rather than leave him in someone else’s care. It is from these beginnings that Ahmir developed a love of musical arrangement and the coordination and harmony of group music. Along with Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter (The Roots co-founder) and other members, the group helped to shape modern hip hop, along with forays into soul, jazz, and funk among others. This love of various genres and the diversity of people that The Roots have collaborated with show Questlove’s persona and somewhat unique view on music, politics and society at large. And seeing as Black History Month has just begun, let’s tap into The Roots leader, Questlove.
“Highlight reels are about that one person. After a barrage of highlight reels, you get the sense that you can do it without a team. But music thrived the most when groups were involved. People lose sight of that – that community makes the world run.” – The Roots
We have” to get back to “we.” It’s important to get back to “we” not just “I.”” – The Roots
“During the 2008 election, I made clear to the Obama campaign that I don’t think it’s wise for me to force my personal political agenda on anyone.” – The Roots
“I really appreciate when people use their fame and their voice for more than just self-promotion, starting a dialogue about a topic or an issue much bigger than themselves.” – The Roots
“Music has the power to stop time. But music also keeps time.” – The Roots
“I keep moving through time and time keeps moving through me. And through that process, life takes shape. The question is what shape it is. I’m not the first person to ask that question, or to see how absurd it is to think there’s a real answer. Maybe life’s a circle…” – The Roots
“Part of me would just like to relax and have one job that pays me the amount I need to survive. And another part of me wants the creativity that comes out of struggle and frustration and fear. It’s a never-ending cycle, which must be how I want it, on some level.” – The Roots
“Resistance here doesn’t mean revolution. It doesn’t mean storming the barricades. Resistance means using art for the things that it does best, which is to create human portraits and communicate ideas and forge a climate where people of different races or classes are known to you because they make themselves known. In the simplest terms, art humanizes. It opens the circuit of empathy. And once that process happens, it’s that much harder to think of people as part of a policy or a statistic. Art reverses the alienation that can creep into society.” – The Roots
“Half the time, my job is basically to talk people off the ledge. It’s more psychological than just me picking up some sticks and counting, “1, 2, 3, 4.”” – The Roots
“My theory is that nine times out of ten, if there’s a depression, more a social depression than anything, it brings out the best art in black people. The best example is, Reagan and Bush gave us the best years of hip-hop.” – The Roots
Author: Munatsi Mavhima
‘m a young man from Zimbabwe and I recently earned a degree. The piece of paper says Political Science but I’ve got varying interests which is why I’m currently writing for FeelingSuccess. I enjoy playing sports on and off the console and I’ll try most foods at least once. I’m on Facebook in name only so check my Twitter @Muna263 and my Instagram @VenatorSola where I post poems and cool quotes.