Completed Book 12/13/21 - Mo' Meta Blues by Ahmir "QuestLove" Thompson & Ben Greenman

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Completed Book 12/13/21 - Mo' Meta Blues by Ahmir "QuestLove" Thompson & Ben Greenman

The last music related book I read was by Lecrae "Unashamed" which was great..but that was quit some time ago. I say that to say connection to music has been very distant in recent years. What was once my life's passion is now something I reach to if and when I feel I have something of value to say. Aside from that, it feels like a distant memory. If you know me personally, that may sound odd to you knowing my resume.

Ok, let's talk about Mo' Meta Blues. I was gifted this book by my good buddy Dan (Trey C) a while back and decided to finally crack it open. So with complete transparency...I didn't know much about The Roots or 'as much' as I thought I did. I guess one would call me a casual, meaning I didn't listen to them a whole lot but was aware of them. Songs they did with Common, a few others and from watching them on Jimmy Fallon. They were the band I knew worked with everyone but that was the extent of it. (I must admit, I am ashamed to say that)

Anyway, Questlove does a masterful job at taking me to school so to say. He comes from a music family where both his parents were touring artists and very religious. He toured and played drums with them also. Aside from that, they kept him on a pretty narrow path which made for some awkward moments throughout his life because he was sheltered from a lot so to say. One of his passions aside from music was collecting albums for the artwork. He loved art and a lot of his purchases were based on the cover art alone.

In fact, some of the art (mixed with the music type) didn't fly too well with his parents. So, once they were found and tossed he'd have to rebuy them a few times over. Prince and Michael Jackson were two of his favorites, but he loved the entire spectrum of music. In fact, he was a huge fan of The Beach Boys growing up which he jokes about could get him hurt being a large black man with an afro. (LOL) If that doesn't tell you he was a different type of kid growing up...nothing will.

Tariq (Black Thought) and He met in school and were complete polar opposites. Tariq had a very urban street side to him and well, Quest was more so a square to say the least. But they happened to connect regardless of differences, including Quest's parents being not too happy about their friendship out of fear of influence etc. The band came together by accident really, just street performing and freestyling. Which is what they do best on Jimmy Fallon to this day.

The constant theme I got from this book was the bands struggle to adapt to an ever changing music business and what the current desired sound was. They seemed to always have a record deal but were never too commercial or radio which I think at times they were ok with but other times it was a subject that was bothersome. Now, that's not to say they weren't on some big records because I think we know they were. But, behind the scenes it was a struggle. Not just with the labels, but with touring and all of it.

That reminded me a lot of my own personal music journey and the things we struggled with touring. That is in no way to compare my accomplishments to theirs..but there are similar parts. I think the thing that caught my attention the most was their connection to other artists and situations he addressed. I mean they discussed Tupac, Biggie and how all of that East West beef affected even their movement. They had an issue which stemmed from a song they did that apparently took a slight dig at Biggie that got back to him and Puff. It was odd to read because apparently Biggie was a huge fan and was putting everyone in his area onto them (being they were from Philly). 

One of the other interesting connections was with Jay Z and how Quest really didn't have a desire to work with him until his manager kept pushing the issue then telling him, "you'd like him Ahmir (Quest)...he's a music nerd just like you..." He was correct. The early disconnect was that he simply felt they wouldn't jive musically together and they were in two completely different spectrums of hip hop. Crazy the magic that can happen when you give in and try something new.

They had other relationships with more, including Alicia Keys, Kanye, D'Angelo, Q-Tip even Al Green (which was a super awkward encounter). Anyway, the book goes on to talk about how the deaths of Michael Jackson and Prince affected him and it also goes into great detail about their time at Jimmy Fallon. That's where Ahmir (Quest) learned a few hard lessons about how the media can take something and run with it to try and cancel you and your career. Quite the read. If you are a Roots fan, you need this in your collection and if you are music historian or what they'd call a hip hop snob (I mean that with all due respect) you should have it as well. I thoroughly enjoyed it, you will too.

Here is a purchase link: Mo' Meta Blues - Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson