A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

Required Reading: Questlove

By Stephany Kim, SAL Intern

Recognize Questlove, the drummer with the signature afro pick on The Tonight Show, but don’t know much about him? Well, grab your earbuds, groove out to the Grammy Award-winning band The Roots, and check out this “Required Reading” to get ready for Questlove’s event tomorrow night at Washington Hall, where he’ll be discussing his latest treatise on creativity, Creative Quest. It’s going to be a thrilling journey with funky beats, jazzy flows, and radically creative ideas.

If you have more time to spare, get started on his New York Times best-selling books, which delve into a wide assortment of his most creative endeavors ranging from music journalism, pop culture history, and the culinary arts. Here are four insights into the complex world of this artist, DJ, producer, culinary entrepreneur, and overall cultural omnivore:


Things Fall Apart 

In 1999, The Roots released their album, Things Fall Apart, their biggest critical and commercial success since their founding in 1987. The album sold platinum, launching the band into stardom, and “You Got Me,” featuring Erykah Badu, was awarded the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. In 2002, they released their long-awaited fourth album Phrenology, which received the Grammy Award for the Best Rap Album, and have since continued to flourish as one of the most prolific and influential rap groups of all time. The Roots have so far released 10 studio albums, two EPs, and two collaboration albums, while serving as the ever-popular house band on NBC’s Late Night Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. They now have more than 10 Grammy Awards and have travelled extensively worldwide to millions of fans.


 Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove

Mo’ Meta Blues is a punch-drunk memoir in which Questlove tells his own story while tackling some of the lates, the greats, the fakes, the philosophers, the heavyweights, and the true originals of the music world. New York Times critic Dwight Garner writes, “It’s a proper memoir in the sense that it eventually gets his story told, all 42 years of it thus far. But it’s more about the music that’s pricked up his ears, the stuff that’s made him the tastemaker that he is. The end pages on my copy are crammed with song titles.” If you are a fan of Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, Prince, the Isley Brothers, Rufus, Public Enemy,  D’Angelo, or if you’re looking to expand your musical repertoire, you are sure to enjoy this read.


somethingtofoodabout: Exploring Creativity with Innovative Chefs

Questlove has an unquenchable hunger for all things creative — including food. “Whenever I talk to musicians, I don’t care about the music. I care about how they made it. I wanted to observe the same things with chefs,” he explained on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. This book chronicles a series of riveting conversations with ten innovative chefs in America about what makes their creativity tick and how their cooking has shaped their perspectives on the world around them. The conversations begin with food, but end wherever eating takes them. Vogue writer Brooke Bobb writes, “Somethingtofoodabout is really a passion project. For Questlove, it’s not about the food business, but rather the ideas, the concepts, and the imaginations behind the chefs who feed him. There are no recipes and no how-tos. For Questlove, the only how-to you need to know is how to appreciate and understand the taste, the process, and the journey of the idea.”


Vic Firth Artist Spotlight: Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson

In this interview with famed percussionist Vic Firth, Questlove describes his life in three phases: the first phase was touring with his father’s doo-wop group throughout his childhood; the second phase, drumming with The Roots, traveling, and performing worldwide; the third phase, his current phase, is his life as a producer in New York City and the musical director of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Watch this 5-minute spotlight video to get a quick glimpse into what his creative life looks like now.

Tickets are still available to “Questlove on Creativity,” a conversation moderated by D’Vonne Lewis tomorrow, Friday, April 20, at 8:00pm. Each order (except Student and complimentary tickets) comes with a copy of Questlove’s latest book, Creative Quest. Following the event, Questlove will be signing books. Get your tickets here!

Posted in 2017/18 SeasonCreativitySAL AuthorsSAL Presents