Music is History

Music is History – Another Questlove Book Drop

The Roots’ Questlove’s new book, Music is History spans 50 years and examines the soundtrack of his life, one song per chapter, at a time.

The Roots’ Questlove has probably edited and prepared more documentary films (his 2021 debut, Summer of Soul on Hulu, readying an upcoming flick on the funky music and troubled life of Sly Stewart from Sly and the Family Stone) and written work (his last one was 2018’s Creative Quest) than he has recorded music in the last five years (2014’s …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin is his band’s last album). 

Yet, music making, or at least listening, is never far from his thoughts, and with that comes his sixth written work (and a swanky audio version that Quest promises sounds dynamic and features a rocking self-made soundtrack of which you could just read about in the chapter-by-chapter playlists), Music is History

The new History book dropped on Friday, and is based around the 50 years of his existence so far, and how – in that same, five decades’ time – the American songs from each year reflected that which was going on around him in the world, as well as how each tune affected him, or impacted his life as a man, musician and as a citizen of the world. Weighing heavily on music mainly from the years of 1971 – 2001, large portions of the book touches on the era of Blaxpolitation and how the prevalence of disco was an insult to Black Genius and musicianship and uses James Brown’s “The Original Disco Man,” as both horrible proof and tribute.

Music is History

It’s a one song per chapter and year verse for Music is History, with the best example being something he told Terry Gross at Philly WHYY studios on October 12: 1988’s Public Enemy’s “Rebel Without a Pause” – a song so emotionally, antically and socially charged that he quit his job in West Philly at the time. It’s a great listen, check that…

Beyond Chuck D and Flava Flav, Questlove and Gross talked about Tony Williams’ “There Comes A Time,” recorded in 1971, the year Questlove was born, as well as the holy chapter of Blaxpolitative totems “Shaft” (by Isaac Hayes) “Super Fly” and “Freddie’s Dead” (by Curtis Mayfield) and “Across 110th Street” (from Bobby Womack) to portray the opposing poles of Black sexuality, strength and pain.

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