Book of Rhymes: Mo Meta Blues - Questlove

Posted On Monday, June 24, 2013

I can't hold you, I've never been a Questlove fan. Yeah, I LOVE the Roots to death (even though I'm not in love with the bulk of their releases since "Things Fall Apart") but not Questlove. Why? Because I never understood what he brought to the group. Now that my sound kinda weird and ya'll might be saying  "duh...Kil, he's the drummer." And of course I know he's the drummer but the bulk of my favorite Root's songs have that drum machine "boom bap" feel to why do they need a drummer in the group?  Questlove stans will say something like "but Quest plays the drums but he resampls them through a drum machine to give it "that" feel." My response is, "why not just use a drum machine?" I remember reading this article a while back about how Pete Rock uses the MPC2000XL now instead of the SP-1200 but he runs it through all of this "stuff" to get it to sound like a SP-1200 and me and my dude Mills was like "why not just use the SP-1200 then?" Most folk who know me, know I wasn't in love with "Do You Want More" or "Organix" mostly because of the live feel and the "jazzyness" and both releases were just too light in the ass for me. It wasn't til "Illadelph" that I can say that I became a fan of The Roots and trust me, it had A LOT to do with the harder drums and samples. So, if some my fave Root's jawns were produced by other producers, I gotta ask again...what's Quest for again?

Now trust, I'm not trying to throw the man under the bus because I know money's EASILY one of the best drummers of our generation, not to mention an incredible music director and band leader but since the Roots starting moving in a "harder" direction, I've always questioned his roll in the group. He even touched on it in the liner notes of "Illadelph" when he states, "stop making my loops sound artificial, they're going to think I'm not on the album." But since we're on the topic of Quest's liner notes, that's another place where I can't front on dude cause money has an uncanny ability through his writings to allow you to be a fly on the wall through the journey of making a Root's album. It was to the point that if a Root's album didn't have liner notes it automatically lost half of mic from me when it came time to rate the album cause Quest made the liner notes just as important as the beats and rhymes. So when I found out Quest was coming out with a book of his memoirs I knew I'd be first in line to cop it. But hold tight for a minute...I've played myself in the past, copping cat's biographies and memoirs thinking I'm gonna get a breakdown on how their albums were made and how their rhymes were written a la Brian Coleman's "Check The Technique" only to find myself bored outta my mind cause I'm just hearing about their childhood, and how much of a thug they are, and all of the chicks they banged or hearing a lot of other cat's stories that are more exciting then their own. But no matter how many past hip hop memoirs have done me dirty, I would bet money that if anybody in the entire game could pull off a hip hop memoir the right way, that it would be Questlove. And guess what? I wasn't wrong by any means.

Quest starts off the book saying that he doesn't want this to be your average book...and it isn't. There are so many dope things about this book, I honestly don't know where to start. We can start off with how there are so many different layers to this book and the dopest part is they all work together without confusing the hell outta you. First you've got  Rich Nichols (The Root's co-manager from day one) and Quest having random conversations throughout the book that eventually lead to Rich's thought becoming footnotes to Quest's thoughts which is one of the illest things I've ever come across in an artist's memoirs. It's literally like an episode of What's Happening when you would hear Dwayne's side of the story and then you hear Raj's and Rerun's side. The same thing is going on here. Sometimes the way Quest says things went down, Rich remembers the exact opposite happening. Then you've got emails from Ben Greenman (the cowriter) to Ben Greenberg (the editor) explaining how the book is coming along and what changes are being made and then mix that in with the "Quest Loves Records" parts of the book which is a breakdown of some of Quest's favorite records and what affect they had on his life and then there's also that 'lil part about Quest's life story which I'm glad to say he's a wide open book about. Whether he's talking about his family life from his pop being a "softer" version of Joe Jackson, his pop making him smoke 14 cigs as a kid and his pop wanting a cut outta his "Do You Want More" advance to his relationship with Tariq, how they met, how Tariq and Wanya (from Boyz II Men) going at it over a shorty lead to them forming a group and how a fist fight between them from 20+ years ago still affects them to this day.

And how can I leave out how funny this dude Quest has some of the funniest stories for days! How about the time Prince's assistant texted Quest about a Valentine's Day skating party he was having and told Quest that he should bring some "cool" people and outta everybody in Quest's crew, he ends up going with Eddie Murphy. (sounds like a Charlie Murphy story from The Chapelle show right?) Or what about the time at the '95 Source Awards when the whole Suge/Puff drama went down and as Quest remembers it, as soon as John Singleton said the winner for producer of the year was Dr. Dre he grabbed his date and ran out the awards and didn't look back. "I felt like Lot and his wife fleeing Sodom and Gomorrah and I didn't turn around for that very reason. I felt like my life was in danger." After finishing this book (in one day I might add...can't remember the last time I finished a book in one day) I mos def not only understand why Quest has been a part of the Roots but more importantly that The Roots probably wouldn't be The Roots I love, without Quest. So even though I've never been a Questlove torch bearer or even a fan, I now realize how can you not root (no pun intended) for a dude who went from playing buckets on South Street in Philly for money to eat to becoming the band leader for the soon to be tonight show? And the answer is HAVE to root for him.

4 outta 5

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