Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Mo’ Meta Blues (Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson)

Thomson, Ahmir - Mo' Meta Blues

★★★★★☆☆

Title: Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove
Author: Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson & Ben Greenman
Genre: Non-Fiction / Memoir / Autobiography / Music
First published: 2013
Edition: Kindle e-book

In this series of punch-drunk-on-culture essays, Ahmir Thompson, better known as The Roots’drummer Questlove, expounds on his vast and opinionated knowledge of music-from the greats, the lates, the fakes, the headliners, and the almost-were’s-as well as important themes in black art and culture. These essays will be filtered through the eyes of one of our most recognizable cultural chameleons in Thompson’s passionate, stream of consciousness style. Through these stories, he will reveal some of his own formative experiences, such as growing up in 70’s Philly with 50’s doo-wop singers as parents and finding his way through music, as well as random musings about his run-ins with celebrities and playing with some of his idols.

This was a pick for a book club I try and keep up with that reads books to do with music in one way or another. This was not a book on my radar at all, but I am glad I took the time and effort to read it, because I did enjoy it quite a bit.

Let’s be clear here, I only know Questlove and The Roots via the Jimmy Fallon route. Hip hop has never really been a genre I have explored very much (though there are plenty of songs I like). Thus I had never really come across The Roots before that. Yet, I decided to pick up this book as it simply sounded interesting and after all, I love music and I tend to like non-fiction books centred around the subject.

I actually really enjoy Questlove’s story telling. His annecdote about Prince on light-up ice skates alone was worth reading this for!  Questlove talks about all the artists that influenced him, his contemporaries, the deaths of prominent people in his life, but also about being black and about prejudice, both from white and black communities.

I have to say that the way the book was put together did not always make sense to me. It wasn’t quite written as a series of essays, but it was not quite a run-of-the-mill memoir either. I could not help feeling like they were not quite sure in what shape to pour it.  Some bits are interview style, some bits are based around records that influenced Questlove’s music and other parts are just straight-up memoir. The occasional interspersing chapters by Ben Greenman writing note-style to himself were fun, but were they necessary? I am not sure. None of that actually bothered me too much, but it just made it feel a little messy here and there. You could call it playful instead, I guess.

I actually thought it was very interesting to read about a group I did not actually know very much about, as I was told a story that was completely fresh and new to me. I have been listening to The Roots whilst I have been reading this book and I have to say,  I found I really like their vibe!

So, I am grateful that this book club decided to read this book. Otherwise, I would have never picked this up and I would never have listened to The Roots’ music.

5 out of 7 stars

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