Hot Luck Review: Questlove
Roots polymath demonstrates DJ prowess
By Clara Wang,
11:30AM, Mon. May 28, 2018
A rare jack-of-all-trades and master-of-many, Roots founder Questlove unceasingly expands his resume: tackling music journalism via Okayplayer, co-producing Hamilton, and now authoring the Creative Quest artist guide. With a spectacular Sunday set at Mohawk, the godfatherly drummer/producer applied his Midas touch to the turntables.
Ahmir Khalib Thompson opened his Memorial weekend performance with funky jams for a literally funky crowd, as muggy Texas heat had a lady fainting in the first 30 minutes and the audience ripening in a sweaty tangle of elbows. It was a mixed congregation, from blonde-streaked brunchers to grizzled brothers who grew up at the church of Black Thought.
Clad in a Jackson’s shirt and keeping his sunglasses on throughout the night, the multi-instrumentalist effortlessly clocked Motown, Chaka Khan, and a litany of disco jives. However, there weren’t as many people dancing to a mashup of “We’ve Got the Funk” and the Bee Gees as was deserved.
Thompson is of the DJ school preferring skips instead of scratches, hitting dramatic three-second pauses, then building up tension as disco synths dropped into Britney Spears and Tamar Braxton cuts. An expert of scooping samples, a highlight of the night was his reverse engineering of “Ice Ice Baby” and “Under Pressure.” The adjunct instructor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts upped the bass as the night wore on, hitting Michael Jackson's “Dangerous” and a whimsical De La Soul joint.
It was the kind of dancing crowd that Instagrammers behind the rope looked sad to be cut off from.
Thompson and his hype man rolled with laughter when white people cheered loudly for Donald Glover’s anthem of black pain, “This is America.” Around 9:30pm, the Latin came out and Thompson cha cha’d into Cardi B’s “I Like It” before interspersing dance classics like Earth, Wind, & Fire’s “September” and Deee-Lite’s “Groove is in the Heart” with golden age rhymes.
Attendees exited Mohawk knowing exactly what a DJ set should sound like.