A Long Convo With… Questlove (Pg. 3)

But of course there are folks who say that Drake singing isn’t true hip-hop.

But his singing doesn’t come off as corny. It’s actually welcomed. Singers are an endangered species. But what Drake is doing is something entirely new. I just hope he’s able to focus and get past the pressure of having that weight on his shoulders. Because there have been a lot of MC’s that have had that Ah, this is the future of hip-hop. A lot of the mavericks of hip-hop have gotten there without that hype. It wasn’t like when Reasonable Doubt came out we knew this guy Jay-Z was going to be God MC. Even Biggie’s beginnings were humble. He wasn’t pegged as a savior.

I think Nas was one of the only MC’s that was able to live up to that immense hype.

Nas was definitely able to get away with it. And that’s a rare case.

Can the Roots be looked at as a hip-hop act in the era of Gucci Mane?

I know a lot of people are real confused about the evolution of the Roots. I just tell them my personal mission as one of the producers in the collective is I’m really overprotective of the perception of the group. You know that question of are we real hip-hop or not? So I was more or less obsessed with sonically trying to make sure we sounded just as aggressive as a RZA production or as a Ummah production or anybody that is basically killing the game today. As a result, I became more of an engineer than a producer.

An audio nerd, huh? 

Well, to me it was more important using specific types of mics and how to make our stuff sound like it was a sample. I love that whole making people think, Ah man…y’all sampled this? Nah, motherfucker, we did this ourselves [laughs]! I played Jazzy Jeff the Joanna Newsome’s “Book of Right-On” his first question was, “Yo, how did you clear that sample???” And I was like, “No…that’s me! Don’t you hear all those drum fills?” That’s what I live for.

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