The drummer and co-founder of the Roots unpacks the creative process.
Questlove’s Mo’ Meta Blues (2013) was an uncommonly incisive, reflective, and engaging musical memoir. If that was the author’s masterpiece, this is more like the previously unreleased bonus cuts; it lacks the focus and cohesion of the earlier work, mixing the enlightening with the banal. “Early in this book,” he writes in conclusion, “I also said that I don’t know exactly what the goal of a book about creativity should be. My method has been to share stories from my life working on and around many different projects filled with many different ideas, and the goal of that method is to pass on some of that momentum to you.” The author goes behind the scenes of the Tonight Show, where the Roots are the house band, describes the elation that he feels from receiving a good review and the deflation from a bad one (he seems more attuned to reviews than many other artists), and relates the experiences and influences that have impacted his musical development. Unlike Mo’ Meta Blues, this book is presented and organized like a self-help book, one that doesn’t offer readers much help. “We’re going to need a definition of a creative person to go forward,” he writes. “Here’s a first stab at it: a creative person is a person who creates.” The author moves beyond tautology in the most interesting part of the book, in which he explores how the internet has transformed our culture and the very notion of creativity, making us all curators, even of our own identities. “Our brains are changing,” he writes. “They used to be containers. Now they’re retrievers. It’s a fundamental shift.” Questlove is also interested in artists working across platforms and on chefs and food in general (see his previous book, somethingtofoodabout, for more information).
More dross than expected but plenty of genuine gems of insight as well.