The 52-year-old Philadelphia-born drummer Questlove is a wonder. The artist came up, essentially, as the bandleader for the Philadelphia rap group The Roots, yet he plays the drums in the back. He’s often calm and reserved, but he’s so recognizable that he has his own silhouette logo.
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Quest is also a Grammy winner and an Oscar winner thanks to his recent documentary Summer of Soul. Truly, he’s an accomplished artist. But with all that skill and experience behind him, some might wonder what Quest has to say about his craft, life and love, and the world around him.
Without further ado, here are the 20 best Questlove quotes.
1. “I would love to have some sort of Back To The Future Delorean time machine travel device so I could go back to 1981 to see that very first Jackson 5 concert I went to, back when I was a kid.”
2. “According to my parents, I just started drumming when I was two. I traveled with them from five to seven on the road, playing percussion. Between 8 and 12, my dad sort of prepared me by teaching me every aspect of road life.”
3. “I don’t have friends, and it’s hard for me to make new friends. Right now, the people that are in my life are the people that I work with.”
4. “I’m not one of those people who’s so blinded by my own work and my sweat. It’s kind of risky writing a memoir when you’re really part of a larger universe.”
5. “Hip-hop is an instant gratification, winners and losers circle, and often those who are losing give up after three or four, five years.”
6. “I have a lot of those ‘Forrest Gump,’ I-was-there moments.”
7. “You know the greatest thing about working on ‘Fallon?’ I get so many anonymous gifts.”
8. “Hip-hop is so much about character and caricature that people just see you as a character. Very rarely are you flesh and bone to people.”
9. “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.”
10. “I believe that the only people who really, truly benefit from any of the policies of Republicans are the wealthy. I’m in that 1 percent tax bracket, but I’m not a man of wealth.”
11. “My parents were really strict about me not watching cartoons.”
12. “My first gig was at Radio City Music Hall when I was 13.”
13. “I’m a 24-hour tweet machine, I’m a 24-hour blogger. When there’s no pressure on me, I can talk and write and lecture with the best of them. But put a deadline on me and I start getting writer’s block.”
14. “I prefer to unwind by DJing. I learned that from Mike D from the Beastie Boys. After a show, he would DJ. Once I saw that, I wanted to do that. And now DJing is like my lifeline. I love the power it represents.”
15. “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.”
16. “Classical music requires an immense amount of concentration, and I don’t know if I would’ve been that committed to that particular life.”
17. “Hip-hop is such a disposable art form from a business standpoint. It never treats its artists as art; it never treats its product as art.”
18. “I do secret stand-up shows around New York. I announce and tweet this to nobody—I get onstage and I do a quick five minutes.”
19. “I think the music comes first, then comes the fashion, and thus, the lifestyle. I believe it starts with music, and then the person delivering it delivers the lifestyle, the fashion. Madonna is a great example of that.”
20.”I want the ‘Roots’ biopic to be animated—I see Charles Schulz drawing us. I think it would be more hilarious with the voices of children.”