Book Review: Rock & Roll Books
Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson
Reviewed by Thomas Fawcett, Fri., Dec. 6, 2013
Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questloveby Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and Ben Greenman
Grand Central Publishing, 288 pp., $26
"This book should be different," proclaims Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson at the start of his endlessly entertaining memoir. The Roots drummer remains the ultimate music nerd, a grownup version of the kid who wallpapered his room with illustrations from Rolling Stone record reviews. His every memory comes inextricably linked to a song, a fact that makes him a world-class DJ and his memoir a virtual crate-digging excursion. These touchstones weave throughout a journey from West Philly to Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, but most literally in segments called "Quest Loves Records," one of many quirky devices that offer a peek beneath the iconic afro. Emails between the book's editor and its co-author Ben Greenman discuss the direction of the project ("We don't want the book to go off the rails. Are there rails?"), while longtime band manager Rich Nichols chimes in with sage perspective and occasional shit-talking via footnotes. The backstory to every Roots album is here (not to mention D'Angelo's Voodoo, which Thompson reveres), but more interesting is his perspective on their shifting place in the larger hip-hop landscape. Even then, this visual alone makes Mo' Meta Blues essential: Prince gliding around a near-empty skating rink wearing "the strangest, most singular pair of roller skates I had ever seen."