Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson
Mo‘ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove
Grand Central Publishing
Anyone who has followed the Roots’ 20-year career has already soaked up so much of Questlove’s writing – in novella-length liner notes, message-board posts and endless tweets – that the drummer-bandleader’s new memoir hardly feels like his first book. Thumbing through these pages is more like picking up an ongoing conversation with the smartest, chattiest music nerd you know.
Mo‘ Meta Blues (co-authored with New Yorker editor Ben Greenman) follows a loose chronological arc, tracing Questlove’s path from shy Philly kid to the kind of guy who gets invited to roller-skate with Prince. He’s as much cultural critic as memoirist – he can’t resist interrogating, debating and riffing on every milestone he achieves. When Jay-Z asks the Roots to back him at an MTV Unplugged show in 2001, Questlove’s first instinct is to worry about alienating underground purists: “He was the antichrist to a certain kind of hip-hop fan.” There are other voices in the mix, too, including some priceless interjections from the Roots’ sardonic manager, Rich Nichols. But the joy of this book is getting to live inside Questlove’s jam-packed, restless brain for a while.