Watch Justin Bieber, Questlove Battle in Drum-Off Rematch on 'Fallon' - Rolling Stone
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Watch Justin Bieber, Questlove Battle in Drum-Off Rematch on ‘Fallon’

Pop star blends in with audience, participates in N.W.A-inspired “Freestylin’ with the Roots”

In 2010, long before the scandals, the arrests, the forgotten monkey, the roast and redemption tour, a baby-faced Justin Bieber took on Questlove in a drum-off on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Five years later, Bieber appeared on Fallon’s Tonight Show Wednesday, where he once again faced off against the famed Roots drummer in a battle of skins and skills.

While Bieber was impressive during the 2010 showdown, it was clear he’d since honed his chops. The pop star kept pace with Questlove throughout the back-and-forth, trading beats and fills, and finally finishing the revered drummer off with a splashy finish. Questlove could do nothing but concede. He then left his post on the bandstand and walked out of the studio with a highly affected shrug, while Bieber jumped on top of Fallon in celebration (Questlove did return later to help the Roots back up Bieber on a performance of “What Do You Mean?”).

Prior to the pair’s fierce competition, Questlove and the Roots improvised a track about Bieber for the recurring Tonight Show segment “Freestylin’ with the Roots.” For the bit, Fallon trekked through an entire row of the audience in order to find his “willing participant,” Bieber, not so discretely disguised in a hat and bulky jacket. “Almost didn’t see you there with all the camo,” Fallon cracked.

Barely keeping the gambit alive, Bieber offered up his profession (“singer/entertainer”), the would-be title of the TV show about his life (“Just Tryna Get There”) and the actor who would play him in said TV show (“Tyler Perry”). When the Roots balked at his casting decision, Bieber tried to respond, and Fallon, laughing, had to remind him: “You can’t talk to the Roots. You don’t know them, remember?”

In honor of Straight Outta Compton‘s reign at the box office, Fallon requested an N.W.A-style track, over which Black Thought began, “Here’s a little something about the singer Jus B / Never shoulda been let in to NBC.” The MC continued to draw on N.W.A’s “Gangsta Gangsta,” simultaneously squeezing in every little detail Bieber had provided, and ultimately closing, for good measure, with Ice Cube’s famous “You don’t like how I’m living” line.

Along with his performance of “What Do You Mean?” with the Roots, Bieber also spoke with Fallon about his emotionally charged performance at the Video Music Awards over the weekend. The pop star also revealed that his upcoming, as-of-yet untitled new album will see release on November 13th.


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