In the summer of 2004, I saw Dave Matthews Band at the Shoreline Amphitheater two nights in a row. Opening for them was a band called The Roots. I had never heard of them. I was used to that – seeing bands open for Dave that I did not know. What I did not expect was how much I would be blown away by The Roots. I had never seen a hip hop band live. They played instruments. And rapped. Like crazy. I fell in love.
One of the people behind The Roots is the drummer, Amir “Questlove” Thompson. So I was excited to that he was writing a memoir, Mo’ Meta Blues. The book was a quick read – one day. I learned a lot, not just about him or the band, but about music. And not just hip hop. It turns out that he listens to all kinds of music. Most of which I had never heard of. I got a musical education from the book.
I also found out Prince can roller skate like the devil. I found out that there are intelligent, thoughtful people who are performers. Even if you are not a fan of hip hop, the book is quite the story. Amir grew up in Philadelphia, son of a musician and singer. He grew up touring with his parents. He started playing the drums when he was very young and was a bit of a nerd in school.
The impression most people have of hip hop is a bunch of third-grade educated ganstas and thugs who kill each other and end up dead or in prison. But The Roots and a lot of people they collaborate with, are the opposite. They are educated and thoughtful and have a unique view of the world. I also respect The Roots because their music is not glorifying violence and drugs and it’s not misogynistic.
The Roots were always critically acclaimed, but never developed the huge fan base that rappers like Eminem and Jay-Z have. After a chance encounter with Jimmy Fallon, they agreed to be his house band on Late Night. The collaboration has been successful and in the book, Thompson tells stories about things that happened on the show and the boon to the band’s creativity by having to perform live nightly.
If you like memoir and entertainment then I think you would like this book.