Let’s meet Questlove

Ahmir Khalib Thompson, known professionally as Questlove, is an American musician, record producer, disc jockey, filmmaker, music journalist, and actor. He is the drummer and joint front-man for the hip hop band the Roots.

Questlove was born on January 20, 1971, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father, Lee Andrews, had enjoyed commercial success in the late 1950s with his doo-wop band, the Hearts, and his mother, Jaquelin, was a model and a singer.

He learned the ropes of show business from his father’s band. In 1987, he co-founded the jazz/hip-hop group the Roots, which garnered critical and commercial acclaim before becoming the house band for Late Night With Jimmy Fallon in 2009.

Delivering socially conscious lyrics and jazz-influenced sound from its instrumentalists, The Roots were an anomaly in a genre of sampled beats and a “gangsta” ethos defined by artists like Dr. Dre and Ice Cube. With a limited market for their unique sound, they independently released a debut album, Organix (1993) and spent much of the early 1990s touring Europe.

Questlove eventually developed a machine-like quality to his drumming, and with it arrived The Roots’ first taste of commercial success. Their third album, Illadelph Halfife (1996), spawned a breakout single in “Clones” and an attention-grabbing video for “What They Do.” Their follow-up effort, Things Fall Apart(1999), brought the group’s first gold record and Grammy win, for the single “You Got Me.”

With Questlove and Black Thought providing the backbone to a fluctuating lineup, The Roots continued mesmerizing fans with albums like Phrenology (2002), Game Theory (2006), How I Got Over (2010) and Undun (2011). They also teamed up with Jay-Z for the hip-hop mogul’s MTV Unplugged performance in 2001, and with John Legend, for the Grammy-winning cover album Wake Up! in 2010.

In the late 1990s, Questlove branched out from the Roots to collaborate with other jazz- and soul-influenced artists. Their collective, which became known as the Soulquarians , was prominently involved in the production of acclaimed albums like Mos Def’s Black on Both Sides (1999), D’Angelo’s Voodoo (2000) and Common’s Like Water for Chocolate (2000).

Questlove also served as the musical director for Chappelle’s Show in the early 2000s and executive music producer for projects like the 2014 Chris Rock film Top Five. Additionally, he has carved out a prominent side career as a DJ, which provides the opportunity to play favorites from his deep collection of at least 170,000 records.

Questlove is also a music history professor, a best-selling author and the Academy Award-winning director of the 2021 documentary Summer of Soul.

Well done!!

Share this report to: