The Roots drummer Questlove rocks the quintessential rhythm section look: big, solid and sweet...
Born Ahmir Khalib Thompson in 1971, the man known professionally as Questlove (or even ?uestlove, if you want to be cryptic about it) has spent decades at the top of his game.
Drumming with The Roots, he’s won Grammys and inspired a host of hip-hop acts to break free of the negativity and materialism of the gangsta tradition. Behind the production desk, he’s sent stars like D’Angelo, Jay-Z and John Legend stratospheric.
With a trademark 'fro and full beard, Questlove rocks the quintessential rhythm section look: big, solid and sweet. His look, and his music, was honed not in the states but over the pond, as he reveals.
“We wanted to do what Jimi Hendrix had done by bringing an idea that we had cultivated in the United States to the UK and working out there until it was the right time to come home,” he told K-Mag’s Aaron Jackson.
“That speaks volumes of our appreciation of music and art from the UK; in the states at the time there was such a drought of outlets for musicians, everyone was a DJ and venues didn’t have the facilities to accommodate live bands.”
It’s perhaps an strange choice of nickname, but it was D’Angelo that decided he should dub Questlove Chewbacca – at least in private.
"D says to me, 'The way I see it, the radio stations and the media is like the Death Star, and I'm Luke Skywalker.' It was this while revolution that was going to save music. Q-Tip was gonna be Harrison Ford, Lauryn Hill was gonna be Princess Leia. Erykah Badu was Queen Amidala. I said, 'Who am I gonna be?' D said, 'You're gonna be Chewbacca.' I said OK. I accepted the role – without even knowing who the hell Chewbacca was!"
As Believer mag stated definitively back in ’03, the guy’s hair is an icon in itself. Yet it’s something that Questo is pretty chilled about. “It’s neglect,” he suggests. “It’s not a statement – but now it’s a marketing angle. If I did what I was supposed to do my hair would be the size of a lion.”
His styling regime is pretty simple, as you’d expect. “What I do is, I spend five seconds in the shower so it can shrink and then just let it go. I’ll shape it however I want it to be designed and then go on with my day.”
There you have it. Hair dynamics from the most dynamite drummer in music today – just don’t go overboard, now.