?uestlove turned 40 this year, a fact that’s hard to imagine considering how long the man and his (can we say iconic?) afro have been around the music game. The leader and skilled drummer of hip-hop’s undeniably best live act might have only recently slipped into the mainstream once The Roots took up residency at “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” but his reputation in the hip-hop community is as entrenched as his devotion to the genre he and The Roots’ have enjoyed bending and expanding since they formed in 1987.
DJ, hip-hop historian, musical percussion archivist, Obama campaign worker, and storyteller -- ?uestlove’s many roles are the result of a restless mind. Recently, several strains converged in his tribute to the political history and influential sounds of African music as part of the Red Bull Music Academy World Tour.
?uestlove’s many roles are the result of a restless mind.
Featuring his high school friend and longtime Roots collaborator MC Black Thought -- plus Amp Fiddler, Macy Gray, and Afrobeat innovator Tony Allen -- at the October show at the Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris, ?uestlove offered up a reinterpretation of African icon Fela Kuti’s music on a stage packed with the people he respects the most.
This month saw the release of The Roots’ 13th album, “Undun.”
Red Bulletin: You’ve got many passions -- is there one that’s most important to you?
?uestlove: My manager always jokes that the only reason I kept The Roots going for so long is ’cause this helps me feed my record-collecting habit. He sees me more as a record collector who just happens to be ?uestlove on the side.
Is he right?
(Laughs) Maybe to a certain extent. I mean, it’s true that I’m addicted to collecting records. I have about 50,000 records at home. And my huge collection doesn’t stop me from buying my favorite records over and over again. I think I own about 20 copies of “Critical Beatdown” by Ultramagnetic MC’s.
Check out the January 2012 issue of Red Bulletin magazine (on newsstands December 13) for more of the article. To read the magazine on your iPad, download the Red Bulletin iPad app.