Questlove podcast is a real treasure

Exceptional Questlove Supreme (QLS) keeps getting better and better, says Stevie G in his Downtown column
Questlove podcast is a real treasure

Questlove won Grammys and an Academy Award for his amazing Summer of Soul documentary.

Podcasts are a dime a dozen these days, and like many music fans, I listened to a lot more of them during the pandemic (when those long walks helped pass the time when all the gigs stopped).

Most of the music ones I’ve listened too have not been enthralling enough to keep me going back for more, but there is one exception, and nearly seven years after its first episode, this podcast keeps getting better and better.

I am talking about Questlove Supreme (QLS), the weekly podcast brought to us by the legendary Roots member and his capable team. Questlove himself is quite simply one the most important figures of hip-hop. An amazing drummer from an amazing group, he has always been at the heart of the movement, with a greater appreciation of hip-hop culture than those within and outside the genre.

As a producer and musician, he was at the crux of the powerful and influential neo-soul movement, which helped recapture the spirit of great soul music from the 60s and 70s with a modern 90s and 00s twist. D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, Bilal, Jill Scott and many more helped define this era, and Quest was there every step of the way. In more recent years, The Roots have served as the in house band for the highly popular Jimmy Fallon show, but this followed 20 years of constant touring and music releases from a group who always had a huge fanbase outside the US too.

Questlove has gone on to win Grammys and an Academy Award for his amazing Summer of Soul documentary, which I wrote about here in detail at the time of its release. I could go on and on. His next documentary project will help bring to life the incredible “Dilla Time” biography of James Yancey, by Dan Charnas, and Questlove has written some acclaimed books himself too. But QLS, his podcast, is simply amazing.

His standing in the industry means he literally knows everyone, and he’s respected by everyone too. It’s the passion and music knowledge which make this such a great podcast though, and his team bring some valuable extra voices and humour to the table. Little Brothers Phonte, Laiya, Boss Bill, Suga Steve and Unpaid Bill are all heavy hitters in their own respective rights, and they all contribute greatly to the success of QLS.

I met Questlove back in the day at one of his numerous festival appearances here. It was in the early years of Oxegen and I was broadcasting my Black on Red show live from a portable cabin as The Roots took to the stage nearby. I had tried in vein to contact his record company in advance of the show to organise an interview, but had got nothing back. Instead, as the group left the stage I politely asked him would he come and join me for a chat live on air, and much to my surprise he obliged.

We spent about 15 minutes chatting about hip-hop over a Miles Davis instrumental live on RedFM, and afterwards he signed loads of records and continued to be super accommodating.

The fact that he was so generous with his time to a DJ from a small local radio station was impressive, especially since most big acts are rarely so forthcoming. He was a gent and to me it further underlined his passion for his craft and the gospel of hip-hop and soul. It’s no surprise that nearly 20 years later his podcast is so good.

The guest-list is incredible. It’s a who’s who of hip-hop and those whose jazz and soul and funk provided the building blocks to the genre first day. Ice T, Kurtis Blow, Q Tip, Chaka Khan, Bob James, Organised Noise, Pete Rock, Solange, George Clinton, Marley Marl, Prince Paul, Giles Peterson and many more have dropped by, and it’s not just music artists or DJs or producers either. Many of the legends interviewed have recently passed (Biz Markie, Wayne Shorter, Prodigy), but much of the classic episodes are still available on the various podcast platforms.

Podcasting isn’t easy; I’ve dabbled in a bit of it myself but find it a bit laborious as I’m busy doing other things.

Questlove somehow keeps his on point all the time and his QLS team have managed to create an archive of essential interviews with some of the biggest hitters in music and arts. It really is a wonderful treasure!

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