- NAME: Questlove
- OCCUPATION: Drummer, Music Producer, Television Personality, Blogger
- BIRTH DATE: January 20, 1971 (Age: 43)
- EDUCATION: Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Full Name: Ahmir Khalib Thompson
- AKA: Questlove
- AKA: Questo
- AKA: Brother Question
- AKA: BROther
- AKA: ?uestlove
- ZODIAC SIGN: Aquarius
Best Known For
Ahmir Khalib Thompson, also known as Questlove, is known as a founding member of hip-hop/neo-soul group the Roots.
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Their sophomore effort, Do You Want More?!!!??!, was released in 1995 on DGC, to moderate success. But a more important contribution to the music world at this time was their effort to foster the burgeoning community of new hip-hop and neo-soul stars. "The first thing we did when we took a label is we took that money and we hired a chef," Thompson said. "When you say, 'Free food at Ahmir's house,' blammo! All of the sudden Mos [Def] is here, Common's here,
Jill Scott's here. And then five hours a night we'd just jam. People are still benefiting: A core 17 of the musicians who would come every week are now bandleaders."
Thompson and the Roots went on tour in 1995, playing second stage at Lollapalooza, and also performing at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. Two of the guests on this tour, human beatbox Rahzel the Godfather of Noyze, and Scott Storch (later known as Kamal), became permanent members of the group around this time.
The following September, the group released Illadelph Halflife, which landed at No. 21 on the album charts, and also achieved modest sales. But it was the group's third release, 1999's Things Fall Apart, that became their biggest critical, as well as commercial success. Named after a Chinua Achebe book, Things Fall Apart housed the single "You Got Me," which featured a now-legendary drum solo from Questlove and guest vocals from Erykah Badu. The album would eventually go gold, and the song with Badu earned the Roots a Grammy Award for best rap performance by a duo or group in 2000. Their album Phrenology, released in 2002, also met with critical acclaim, earning a Grammy nod for best rap album. That same year, they became the first hip-hop group to perform at Lincoln Center.
In 2004, after frustrations with their label, Questlove and his bandmates formed Okayplayer, their own record label and production company. That July, they released The Tipping Point, a series of loose jam sessions, as well as a live album. After signing with Def Jam in 2005, the group released a series of new albums, including the 2006 Grammy-nominated album Game Theory and 2008's Rising Down.
The same year they released Rising Down, the Roots shocked fans when they agreed to become the house band for comedian Jimmy Fallon's new late-night talk show. In particular, Gawker writer Hamilton Nolan called it "the cultural equivalent of Miles Davis playing on the subway platform." Instead of becoming a career ending decision, however, the group rose to new heights of popularity, backing up groups as varied as tUnE-YaRds, Bob Mould and Hunter Hayes.
Freed from touring, the Roots appeared to be working harder than ever, releasing the albums How I Got Over and Wake Up! (featuring John Legend) in 2010. The Roots' work with Legend earned the group a 2011 Grammy for best traditional R&B vocal performance, as well as two NAACP Image Awards—one for outstanding album and another for outstanding collaboration.
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When musicians land big fame, there typically comes a moment of reinvention in which the "rock star" identity is born. This new persona often requires a new name, a way to differentiate between the private and public versions of themselves. Musical monikers take different forms, from the simple, last-name changes aimed at boosting celebrity appeal—like Steven Tyler—to the glamorized version of a childhood nickname—like Jay-Z. Musicians' nicknames and aliases tend to take on an identity all their own over time, often becoming as full of personality as the artists they represent.
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