Questlove Curates Massive Soundtrack For Michelle Obama’s Book Tour. Listen Along.
Michelle Obama released her memoirs titled Becoming last week and now she’s embarked on a 10-city tour to support the book. In a style befitting of a former First Lady of the United States, her string of speaking engagements has its own soundtrack titled The Michelle Obama Musiaqualogy. Not only that, but the 300 song playlist was handpicked and sequenced by Questlove of The Roots. The drummer/producer/DJ is well-known for his deep crates and even deeper knowledge of music.
Mrs. Obama explains the need for a musical companion to her trek, “Like a lot of people, I connect many of my memories with the songs and melodies I was listening to at the time. From the jazz and Stevie Wonder of my childhood, to Prince and Earth, Wind, and Fire as I came into my own as an adult, to Beyoncé, Janelle Monáe, and so many others who provided the stirring back-beats of my time in the White House—music has always been a defining part of who I’ve become.” She added, “That’s why I’m so thankful to Questove for curating these playlists and infusing them with his signature style. Life’s a little better when we live it to Questlove’s beat.”
This massive playlist is broken into three volumes, each covering a large portion of Obama’s life, from her birth to present. Volume 1 has a wide array of tunes that range in release date from the mid-1960s right up until the late 1970s. It is mostly well-known jams by greats like Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Sly & The Family Stone, Parliament Funkadelic, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Barry White, and Reverend Al Green.
A number of the cuts here contain classic breakbeats, and quite a few of them have been sampled by Hip-Hop’s finest. For example, Ronnie Foster’s “Mystic Brew” was looped up by A Tribe Called Quest for “Electric Relaxation,” while Foster Sylvers’ “Misdemeanor” was used by Dr. Dre for the D.O.C.’s “It’s Funky Enough.” We even get The Chi-Lites’ “Are You My Woman? (Tell Me So),” which Rich Harrison used for Beyoncé’s smash hit featuring husband JAY-Z, “Crazy In Love.”
Volume 2 covers tracks from 1980 right up until 1997. However, most of the music in this section is from the 1980s and focuses on acts that ruled the airwaves in that decade like Michael Jackson, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Rick James, Chaka Khan, George Benson, Queen, Kool & The Gang, Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, The Brothers Johnson, The Pointer Sisters, Diana Ross, Zapp, and Hall & Oates. This slab of singles is full of breakbeats and samples as well, but we’ll leave those for Heads to explore and discover.
Volume 3 sews it up with songs that have dropped in the last 20 years. This part of the mix is heavily dominated by 1990s joints. All the decade’s quintessential hits are included by juggernauts of the epoch like Notorious B.I.G., Lil’ Kim, Mase, Big Pun, A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes, Nas, Mobb Deep, MF DOOM, Mariah Carey, TLC, Tony Toni Tone, Janet Jackson, Missy Elliot, Wu-Tang Clan, Common, Mos Def, Lauryn Hill, Gang Starr, Jill Scott, D’Angelo, and even lesser-known artists like Blackalicious, and Aloe Blacc. The beloved former First Lady must really dig Erykah Badu because the songstress gets a run of nine songs in a row. Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar also get a song each. Questlove’s band, The Roots are also rightfully included.
Becoming by Michelle Obama is available now.