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Questlove in Sao Paulo in 2011
|Birth name||Ahmir Khalib Thompson|
|Also known as||
|Born||January 20, 1971|
|Origin||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States|
Ahmir Khalib Thompson (born January 20, 1971), known professionally as Questlove (stylized as ?uestlove), is an American percussionist, multi-instrumentalist, DJ, music journalist, record producer, and occasional actor. He is best known as the drummer and joint frontman (with Black Thought) for the Grammy Award-winning band The Roots. The Roots have been serving as the in-house band for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon since February 17, 2014, as they have for the entire run of the show under Jimmy Fallon. Questlove is also one of the producers of the Broadway musical Hamilton. He is the cofounder of Okayplayer and Okayafrica. Additionally, he is an adjunct instructor at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University.
Questlove has produced recordings for artists including Elvis Costello, Common, D'Angelo, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Bilal, Jay-Z, Nikka Costa, and more recently, Al Green, Amy Winehouse, and John Legend. He is a member of the production teams the Soulquarians, The Randy Watson Experience, The Soultronics, The Beat Biters (with producers Just Blaze and 9th Wonder), The Grand Negaz, and The Grand Wizzards.
Ahmir Khalib Thompson was born into a musical family in Philadelphia on January 20, 1971. His father was Arthur Lee Andrews Thompson, from Goldsboro, North Carolina, and went North in the Great Migration. A singer, he became known as Lee Andrews and was lead with Lee Andrews & the Hearts, a 50s doo-wop group. Ahmir's grandfather Beachy Thompson had sung with the gospel group, The Dixie Hummingbirds. Ahmir's mother, Jacquelin Thompson, together with his father, was also part of the Philadelphia-based soul group 'Congress Alley'. His parents did not want to leave the boy with babysitters, so they took him on tour with them. He grew up in backstages of doo-wop shows. By the age of seven, Thompson began drumming on stage at shows, and by 13, had become a musical director.
Questlove's parents enrolled him at the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. By the time he graduated, he had founded a band called The Square Roots (later dropping the word "square") with his friend Tariq Trotter (Black Thought). Questlove's classmates at the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts included Boyz II Men, jazz bassist Christian McBride, jazz guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, jazz organist Joey DeFrancesco, and singer Amel Larrieux. He attended senior prom with Larrieux. After graduating from high school, he took jazz and composition classes at the Settlement Music School.
Thompson began performing on South Street in Philadelphia using drums, while Tariq rhymed over his beats and rhythms. Thompson and Jay Lonick, a childhood friend, were known for improvisational "call and response" percussion battles with plastic buckets, crates, and shopping carts. This style translated into Thompson's usual drumset arrangement, with most drums and cymbals positioned at waist level, emulating his original street setups.
From the PBS television series, Finding Your Roots, hosted by professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Questlove learned in December 2017 that he was descended in part from Charles and Maggie Lewis, his 3xgreat-grandparents, who had been taken captive in warfare and sold as slaves in the port of Ouidah, Dahomey (now Benin) to American ship captain William Foster. They were among 110 slaves smuggled illegally to Mobile, Alabama, in July 1860 on the Clotilda. It was the last known slave ship to carry slaves to the United States. Questlove is the only guest to have appeared on Gates's program to be descended from slaves known by name, ship, and where they came from in Africa.
1993–96: Beginnings with The Roots
The Roots' lineup was soon completed, with Questlove on drums and percussion, Tariq Trotter and Malik B on vocals, Josh Abrams (Rubber Band) on bass (who was replaced by Leonard Hubbard in 1994), and Scott Storch on keyboards. While the group was performing a show in Germany, they recorded an album entitled Organix, released by Relativity Records in 1993.
1997–2003: Breakthrough, Soulquarians era, and increased output
In 1999, The Roots had mainstream success with "You Got Me" (featuring Erykah Badu); the song earned the band the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for 2000. The song helped fuel the success of their Things Fall Apart album, which has since been hailed as a classic, eventually selling platinum.
Questlove served as executive producer for D'Angelo's 2000 album Voodoo, Slum Village's album Fantastic, Vol. 2, and Common's albums Like Water for Chocolate and Electric Circus. Besides the aforementioned albums, he has also contributed as a drummer or producer to Erykah Badu's Baduizm and Mama's Gun, Dilated Peoples' Expansion Team, Blackalicious's Blazing Arrow, Bilal's 1st Born Second, N*E*R*D's Fly or Die, Joshua Redman's Momentum, and Zap Mama's Axel Norman Ancestry In Progress, Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine, and Zack De La Rocha's currently unreleased solo material.
In 2001, he collaborated as the drummer for The Philadelphia Experiment, a collaborative instrumental jazz album featuring Christian McBride and Uri Caine, and the DJ of the compilation Questlove Presents: Babies Making Babies, released on Urban Theory Records in 2002. He played drums on Christina Aguilera's song "Loving Me 4 Me" for her 2002 album Stripped. In 2002, he and The Roots released the critically acclaimed Phrenology, which went gold.
2004–present: Continued output and other media endeavors
In 2004, The Roots released The Tipping Point, which contained a more mainstream sound, allegedly due to demands from Interscope Records. The album sold 400,000 copies. In 2004, Questlove appeared in Jay-Z's Fade to Black. In addition to appearing in the documentary portion of the film, Questlove was the drummer/musical director for all portions of the show with a live band. In 2005, Questlove appeared along with such luminaries as Madonna, Iggy Pop, Bootsy Collins, and Little Richard in a television commercial for the Motorola ROKR phone. Questlove also appears for a short clip in the 2005 film, The Longest Yard.
In 2006, Questlove appeared in the film Dave Chappelle's Block Party, as well as a couple of skits on Chappelle's Show. These included the Tupac "The Lost Episodes" skit, and one featuring John Mayer, wherein Questlove performs in a barber shop, inducing the occupants to dance and rap. With the exception of The Fugees and Jill Scott, Questlove served as the drummer at the 2004 Brooklyn street concert and was the musical director for the entire show. Questlove was given an Esky for Best Scribe in Esquire magazine's 2006 Esky Music Awards in the April issue. In 2006, Questlove was one of a handful of musicians hand-picked by Steve Van Zandt to back Hank Williams Jr. on a new version of "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight" for the season premiere (and formal ESPN debut) of Monday Night Football. Along with his fellow Motorola ROKR commercial co-stars, Bootsy Collins and Little Richard, Questlove's bandmates included Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick), Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Charlie Daniels, and Bernie Worrell. In the same year he appeared in the studio album Fly of the Italian singer Zucchero Fornaciari.
In 2007, Questlove co-produced with VH1's The Score winning producer Antonio "DJ Satisfaction" Gonzalez, from The Maniac Agenda, the theme to VH1's Hip Hop Honors 2007. Questlove joined Ben Harper and John Paul Jones for the Bonnaroo SuperJam on June 16, 2007, to play a 97-minute set. In 2007 he provided the foreword for the book Check the Technique.
On March 2, 2009, Questlove and the Roots began their run as house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. He continues to performss with The Roots on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, continuing his duties from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. He occasionally performed solos titled 're-mixing the clips' where he drew on his production and DJ abilities to dub video clips, cue audio samples in rhythm, and play drum breaks simultaneously.
In late 2009, while serving as an associate producer of the hit Broadway play Fela!, Questlove recruited Jay-Z to come on board as a producer. It was reported that Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have also signed on as producers.
In January 2010, he was writing material with British singer Duffy for her second album. He has been featured in a commercial for Microsoft's short-lived mobile phone, the Kin. In 2010, he made a cameo in the music video of Duck Sauce's song "Barbra Streisand", and with The Roots released the album Dilla Joints with renditions of producer J Dilla's music. He contributed drums to the song "You've Got a Lot to Learn", which was recorded for the self-titled third studio album by Evanescence, but did not appear on the final release.
Questlove was planning to collaborate with Amy Winehouse before her death in July 2011. He said "We're Skype buddies, and she wants to do a project with Mos and me. Soon as she gets her visa thing together, that's gonna happen." Rolling Stone named Questlove #2 in the 50 Top Tweeters in Music. In June 2011, Questlove played drums alongside The Roots bassist Owen Biddle for Karmin's cover of Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass." Questlove placed 8th in the Rolling Stone Readers Pick for Best Drummers of all Time.
On June 18, 2013, Questlove released a memoir, Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove. On October 22, 2013, Harper Design published the Questlove authored book, Soul Train: The Music, Dance, and Style of a Generation.
Questlove released his third book, Something To Food About: Exploring Creativity with Innovative Chefs, along with co-author Ben Greenman and photographer Kyoko Hamada, which was published by Clarkson Potter Books on April 12, 2016.
In September 2016, Questlove launched a weekly radio show on Pandora, Questlove Supreme. Notable guests have included Solange, Chris Rock, Maya Rudolph, and Pete Rock, among others.
Questlove was interviewed by Alec Baldwin for the January 3, 2017 episode of Baldwin's WNYC podcast Here's The Thing, where he joked about being "obsessed" with his Wikipedia profile. During the interview, he also discussed his musical and cultural interests, how The Roots started a "movement" with three 15-passenger vans, and the impact of the loss of musical icons in 2016.
|2014||Finding the Funk||Co-executive producer|
|2014||Top Five||Executive music producer, composer|
|2016||Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping||Himself|
|2003||Street Time||Composer||1 episode|
|2004||Chappelle's Show||Original sketch music||12 episodes|
|2009–2014||Late Night with Jimmy Fallon||Musical director||969 episodes|
|2009||Yo Gabba Gabba!||Actor||1 episode|
|2010||Nickelodeon Presents History and Heritage||Composer||Special|
|2010||VH1 Rock Docs||Composer||1 episode|
|2011||Philly's 4th of July Jam||Music director||Special|
|2012||Independent Lens||Composer||1 episode|
|2012||The Cleveland Show||Voice||1 episode|
|2012||2012 Soul Train Awards||Composer||Special|
|2013||The Eric Andre Show||Actor||1 episode|
|2013||Top Chef||Himself||1 episode|
|2014–15||Inside Amy Schumer||Composer, actor||11 episodes|
|2014||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Actor||1 episode|
|2014–present||The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon||Musical director||600+ episodes|
|2015||The Jim Gaffigan Show||Himself||1 episode|
|2015||Lucas Bros. Moving Co.||Voice||1 episode|
|2015||Parks and Recreation||Actor||1 episode|
|2016||Hamilton's America||Additional music||Special|
|2016||Night Train with Wyatt Cenac||Actor||1 episode|
|2016||Roots||Executive music producer||1 episode|
|2016||SPARKLE: A Don Quixote Story||Producer||1 episode|
|2016–18||Drunk History||Himself||2 episodes|
In 2005, Questlove appeared with The Roots in Dave Chappelle's Block Party and the following year, he appeared in the popular music film, Before the Music Dies. His latest appearances include Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest and documentary The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (2010) for which he won the Swedish Guldbagge Award for best music together with Om'Mas Keith.
In 2014, Questlove appeared in the famous James Brown documentary Mr. Dynamite: The Rise Of James Brown that was directed by Alex Gibney
In 2015, Questlove appeared on Parks and Recreation as Levondrious, the estranged brother of Retta's character Donna Meagle. Questlove also appeared in a documentary film that depicts the life and death of Amy Winehouse called Amy.
In 2016, Questlove appeared in the film Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping as himself.
In December 2017, Questlove was one of the subjects of an episode the TV series Finding Your Roots, produced by Henry Louis Gates. He learned that one set of 3xgreat-grandparents had been taken captive in Ghana, sold as slaves to traders in Dahomey, and brought to the US illegally in 1860 on Clotilda, which had been adapted as a slave ship.
- Bischof, Jackie. "Questlove of The Roots Branches Out to Africa". WSJ. Retrieved 2017-01-03.
- Brandle, Lars (March 17, 2016). "Lee Andrews, Questlove's Dad and Frontman of Lee Andrews & the Hearts, Dies at 79". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
- "Ahmir Thompson Reflects On His 'Roots'". NPR. March 13, 2009. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
- Fresh Air with Terry Gross. "Questlove On Prince, Doo-Wop And The Food Equivalent Of The 'Mona Lisa'". NPR. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
- "Questlove on His Musical Upbringing, Hip-Hop's 40th, Soul Train and New Memoir, "Mo' Meta Blues"". Democracy Now!. August 14, 2013. Retrieved August 14, 2013.
- Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson; Ben Greenman (June 18, 2013). Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4555-0136-6. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- Henry Louis Gates, Jr., PBS: Finding Your Roots, Season 9: Episode 4, aired Dec. 12, 2017
- Boyd, Jared (December 18, 2017). "PBS show reveals Questlove descended from last known slave ship, which landed in Alabama". The Birmingham News. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
- "Superjam 2007 - Bonnaroo - Artists". Bonnaroo. Retrieved May 9, 2011.
- "Wax Facts Press :: About the Book". Waxfacts.com. June 12, 2007. Archived from the original on October 7, 2011. Retrieved May 9, 2011.
- Farhi, Paul (March 1, 2009). "Ready or Not, Here Comes Jimmy Fallon To Update Late Night". Washington Post. p. M1. Retrieved February 28, 2009.
- Sutton, Benjamin (November 16, 2009). "?uestlove Recruits Jay-Z, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith as Producers on Fela! | The Measure". Thelmagazine.com. Retrieved May 9, 2011.
- "Singer Duffy begins new album sessions in New York BBC1 January 13, 2010". BBC News. January 13, 2010. Retrieved October 24, 2011.
- "Evanescence – Evanescence". Discogs. Discogs. 2014. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
- Fox, Luke. "The Roots' Questlove • Interviews •". Exclaim.ca. Retrieved May 9, 2011.
- "Karmin's Cover of Super Bass". Cover of Super Bass. youtube.com. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
- "Questlove Lands His Own Radio Show on Pandora". Complex. Retrieved 2017-02-21.
- "Solange Reveals Why Master P's Influence Was Golden On Her Latest Album". MTV News. Retrieved 2017-02-21.
- "Questlove and Chris Rock nerd out over hip-hop on Juan Epstein podcast — listen". Consequence of Sound. 2014-11-25. Retrieved 2017-02-21.
- "Pete Rock interviewed on Questlove's Pandora show (read an excerpt)". BrooklynVegan. Retrieved 2017-02-21.
- "Questlove Can't Take a Compliment". www.wnyc.org. 3 January 2018. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
- "Här är alla vinnare av Guldbaggen 2012 | Film | Nöjesbladet | Aftonbladet". Aftonbladet.se. January 23, 2012. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
- "Chance the Rapper/Mel B". Adult Swim. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Questlove.|
- Questlove's Celebrity Stories
- Questlove RBMA lecture
- Questlove on Police Racial Profiling, Stop & Frisk, the Message He Took from Trayvon Martin Verdict on Democracy Now!
- Questlove on His Musical Upbringing, Hip-Hop’s 40th, Soul Train and New Memoir, "Mo’ Meta Blues" on Democracy Now!
- Questlove discography at Discogs
- Questlove on IMDb
|Late Night bandleader
March 2, 2009 – February 7, 2014
|The Tonight Show bandleader
February 17, 2014 – present