Questlove digs into the roots of hip-hop and its impact in new book


Six-time Grammy Award-winning drummer and producer Questlove is digging deep into the roots of hip-hop and uncovering how the genre has impacted culture. He explains it all in his new book “Hip-Hop is History.”

“Hip-hop’s sort of early years is the result of really a generation wanting to be heard,” Questlove said on “CBS Mornings” on Monday. “Before hip-hop, people my age were basically supposed to be seen and not heard; don’t speak unless you’re spoken to; you don’t have valid opinions or feelings… this gives you a voice. It matters what a teenager thinks or what a young person thinks.”

Questlove, who is the joint frontman for The Roots, said his connection to hip-hop runs deep as he sees the parallel of the genre’s rise to his own life.

“I am two years older than when the first hip-hop moment occurred, you know, 1973,” he said. “So, I see it more or less as a good friend of mine and eventually a girlfriend, maybe a fiancée, we went couple’s counseling, are we breaking up, you know.”

In the book, which is out on Tuesday, the musician makes the argument that the early days of hip-hop were really a sort of journalism in the urban American communities.

“Chuck D once said back in the late 80s that hip-hop is kind of rap CNN,” he said. “It’s still as vital and as important as it is today, however … a lot of times, the opinions of hip-hop are based on people that are sort of the outside looking in and you really have to be immersed in the culture to understand.”

He added: “Oftentimes people will use hip-hop as a means to get to know people and you have to get to know people first then get to know what our culture is and our art form is.”

Questlove, whose name is Ahmir K. Thompson, said when he set out to write the book, he wanted to make sure it didn’t come across as a “Hip-Hop for Dummies” or a reference book and emphasized that everything in the book reflects his own opinions of hip-hop.

“This isn’t all the way a memoir but I think it’s a unique look at the culture from someone that’s actually got to walk through the hallways and sort of notate what’s happening,” he said.



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