Questlove Gets Nostalgic About What Makes ’90s Hip-Hop So Important (Video)
When thinking of quintessential Hip-Hop from the 1990s, the Roots are, without question, included in the conversation. That makes it hard to remember that there was a time when Questlove, Black Thought, and the rest of the band were just fans of the genre and not recording artists. It wasn’t until 1993 when the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania crew dropped Organix, years after acts like A Tribe Called Quest, Brand Nubian, De La Soul, Gang Starr, and Pete Rock & CL Smooth were merging Jazz with boom-bap in innovative ways. Clearly, those groups and others like them inspired the Square Roots on their own musical journey, and so it’s no surprise that Questo holds works from the era so close to him.
In the latest installment of Pitchfork’s “Over/Under” series, Questlove speaks on what makes ’90s Hip-Hop so important, and he also shares some personal memories about how the music came full circle for him in an unexpected way. “No period of Hip-Hop really contextualized and kept alive the music of the past and what came before it more than ‘9o’s Hip-Hop,” he says. “When I was growing up, Jazz was a punishment. Like, my dad was straight conservative right when it came to music, and he used Jazz to sort of wipe the demons of all [Prince] and Hip-Hop away from me,” he remembers. “But, after a while, [I started] hearing that stuff in Hip-Hop music I was listening to.” After listing Jazzy Jeff, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and DJ Premier as some of the progenitors of the hybrid genre he was gravitating towards, Quest says “they were using what I call the boring section of your parents’s record collection. They’re making miracles of it. That, to me, brought it full circle.”
Questlove is currently hosting “Questlove Supreme” on Pandora, which Heads can check out Wednesdays at 1pm EST.