Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots has long been considered one of music’s most knowledgeable minds. Considering Questlove established his foundation drumming for one of the world’s most popular Hip-Hop groups, his thoughts on where the genre is and where it can go are worth observing.
In a weekly series launched by New York Magazine‘s Vulture blog, the column will examine how Black music has been shaped by Black culture over the past 50 years. Questlove offers the first of six essays in total to come.
I have wondered about this for years, and worried about it for just as many years. It’s kept me up at night or kept me distracted during the day. And after looking far and wide, I keep coming back to the same answer, which is this: The reason is simple. The reason is plain. Once hip-hop culture is ubiquitous, it is also invisible. Once it’s everywhere, it is nowhere.
What once offered resistance to mainstream culture (it was part of the larger tapestry, spooky-action style, but it pulled at the fabric) is now an integral part of the sullen dominant. Not to mention the obvious backlash conspiracy paranoia: Once all of black music is associated with hip-hop, then Those Who Wish to Squelch need only squelch one genre to effectively silence an entire cultural movement.
The entire column shows Questlove accepting his position as a successful recording artist. It also delves into the idea that Hip-Hop shouldn’t be seen as some monolithic catchall term that gets attached to anything culturally relevant emerging from the minds of Black people. It’s definitely worth a read.
Check out Questlove’s Vulture column in full here.
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