He blamed the decision on his distaste for soul singers of the 90s.
Questlove recently appeared on Rick Rubin and Malcolm Gladwell’s Broken Record podcast. Amongst other things, the two discussed D’Angelo’s Voodoo album which Rubin calls “absolutely perfect.”
Rubin asked Questlove about his work on the heralded album. The question led to a story about Quest playing for D’Angelo back in 1996. He revealed that he’d previously turned down the chance to work on D’Angelo’s 1995 debut, Brown Sugar.
“At the time, I was like ‘ehhh, soul singers in the 90s, whatever,” he said. “I’m not doing this. Nothing about soul singing had moved me, from any 90s offering, the same way it did with Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder, Lou Rawls.”
An associate of D’Angelo’s informed Quest that the singer wanted to work with him. “I looked at him like ‘I’ll pass,'” he said. “And then I got Brown Sugar and was like ‘oh my god. This guy could be the one.”
The following year, Quest attempted to patch things up during a show in Los Angeles. “I’d been trying to figure out how to get back in his good graces so I could be there for Round two,” he said.
“The thing is, because of this (friendly) rivalry thing we had with The Fugees, the show was a certain way. But when I saw D’Angelo, I decided to call an audible and basically have a conversation with just him.”
Questlove played an obscure drum roll from an old Prince record to get D’Angelo’s attention. D’Angelo caught the message, and the rest is history.
Listen to the whole story above.