Top 10 Questlove Collaborations
Between his new Questlove Supreme podcast on Pandora that just kicked off, his band’s epic performance at the opening of the National Museum of African American History on Saturday and being on television five night’s a week, it seems like the The Roots drummer and co-founder is completely ubiquitous.
Whether you’ve been following the legendary Philly band since their Organix days or their first commercial release Do You Want More? on Geffen Records, then you know that Questlove — born Ahmir Khalib Thompson — has been the chief producer for The Roots and has crafted much of their sound.
Plus, the 45-year-old is directly responsible for creating classic albums and singles for other artists from the world of hip-hop, soul music, jazz, you name it and we wanted to look at some of his all-time best.
Check out Questlove Supreme on Pandora every Wednesday at 1 p.m. EST/10 a.m. PST; and below we’ve listed the top ten collaborations of Quest’s career, although we could easily list a lot more.
“Fell in Love with a Boy” Joss Stone
On this one, Questo pulled from retro music styles to accentuate the British singer’s smokey and beyond-her-years voice.
The sultry sounding and groovy cut is on Stone’s debut album Soul Sessions, released back in 2003.
Some might say Stone she was extremely fortunate to work with the beloved drummer since she was a brand new artist at the time.
Two years before Questlove hooked up with Joss, he collaborated with another soul singer, who obviously drew from artists like Prince, Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield.
Clearly, with the help of famed pianist James Poyser, Questo and Bilal cooked up a true gem that still holds up today.
“Sometimes I wish I wasn’t me / Sometimes I wish I was drug free / Sometimes wish I saw the exit sign first / Sometimes wish I knew the truth without the search,” sung Bilal over a lush baseline and light key sounds.
“Lift Your Fist” Guru, feat. The Roots
Considering the late, great Guru worked up close and personal with one of the best hip-hop producers of all time in DJ Premiere, he knew an incredible producer when he saw one.
That’s probably why the Gang Starr member recruited Quest for his Jazzmatazz, Vol. 3: Streetsoul album, released in 2000.
Between the murky, West Coast styled baseline, the head-nodding drums and Guru and Black Thought’s rhymes, this memorable cut just had to make our list.
Sure, a lot of people bashed Com’s fifth studio album Electric Circus for being too left-of-center, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some stellar moments on it and “Aquarius” is definitely one of them.
Using a simple electric guitar riff and stretching it with the right effect, Questlove showed his versatility on this one, replacing his jazz approach for a rock approach that worked on all levels.
“Lay It Down” Al Green, feat. Anthony Hamilton
If the 45-year-old drummer and producer felt intimidated by crafting an entire album for one of the most celebrated soul-singers of our time, it was hard to tell.
With help from James Poyser, Mr. Love seemingly wanted to create an authentic ’70s soul record for Green, and he pulled it off quite successfully.
“MTV Unplugged” Jay Z
Before then, we didn’t see the Brooklyn legend spit over a live band much, but the Late Night drummer made classic songs like “Heart of The City” and “Song Cry” more intimate.
It also seemed using live instrumentation allowed Jay Z to open up more and connect with the studio and TV audience on a deeper level.
“Penitentiary Philosophy” Erykah Badu
After Erykah Badu seduced us with her seamless mixture of love songs and Five-Percent talk on her debut album Baduizm, she switched things up on her follow-up Mama’s Gun.
Arguably, the strongest cut on the LP is its opener “Penitentiary Philosophy,” for Quest’s wonderful usage of rock, throwback soul and hip-hop.
“Like Water for Chocolate” Common
It’s hard to pick just one or two songs that stand out from the Chicago spitter’s fourth studio album — mostly produced by Quest—because the entire LP is masterfully crafted.
Take your pick: “Cold Blooded,” “Time Travelin,” “Geto Heaven Part Two,” featuring D’Angelo. You just can’t go wrong.
“Otherside of the Game” Erykah Badu
This one might be one of Badu’s most beloved songs, at least based on the crowd reaction whenever she performs it. Plus, who could forget how the song begins, with that memorable baseline and Quest’s attention-grabbing rimshot?
Plus, at that time, we haven’t heard a cut from the perspective of a drug dealer’s girlfriend so the tune wasn’t only inventive, it probably spoke to a lot of women who lived that lifestyle.
If you think about it, Ms. Badu was the original “Trap Queen” in this song, and The Root’s drummer clearly helped her relay the story.
If there’s any artist who’s self-contained it’s D’Angelo, since he’s an instrumentalists, a lyricist, producer and an amazing singer.
That doesn’t mean he didn’t want to enhance both his ideas and overall sound, and he recruited Questlove to help him do that.
Whether it’s the laid back, soulful sound of “Chicken Grease,” the album opener “Playa Playa” or the album closer “Africa,” which is pretty much flawless, the 45-year-old helped to create one of the most celebrated soul albums of modern day times.
From here, we can’t wait to see who he chooses to work with next.