I really love copping hip hop memoirs, particularly these days as they coincide with anniversaries of classic albums that I came up on. It just draws me in to hear the back stories and behind the scenes recaps during a great era in hip hop. The latest in my collection is Mo Metta Blues penned by The Roots band leader Questlove. Anyone who is familiar with The Roots can attest that even though Black Thought is the MC, Quest has always been the voice of the roots and quite the storyteller so this is right up his alley.
As with their albums Quest is always trying to find a way to put a twist on the familiar and while writing he continuously tries to steer away from the standard approach and adds in various dimensions. One of the main ways is to have Roots manager, Rich Nichols, comment throughout the book footnoting various events from a different perspective or at times outright refuting Quest’s recaps. In addition, he delves into the crates following each chapter covering records and beats that inspired him along the way, shares email exchanges between his co-writer and the book publisher, and has mid book Q&A’s all of which makes for an interesting and easy read. While it ends up still being linear it meanders enough to keep your attention.
The only real downside is the treading on familiar territory (i.e. avid readers of the roots liner notes or regular participants in the Okayplayer community have read more than a few of these stories before) such as skating with Prince or his thoughts on the Cosby Show’s impact on sampling. Another is avoiding the real interesting stories all together to protect the innocent. Quest is a nice guy so he is not going to put anyone on blast like Prodigy so if you are familiar with some of the main stories (which are hilarious) the others are a bit vanilla. Either way if you are a fan of The Roots in some way its worth picking up to add to your collection.