Questlove Details His Favorite Christmas Songs on NPR’s ‘Fresh Air’

Jaelani Turner-Williams Jaelani Turner-Williams is a contributing news writer for Okayplayer with…
Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for TIME

As part of NPR program Fresh Air, Questlove has presented a Christmas mixtape with classics from Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, DRAM and more.

Questlove is kicking off the holidays with a Christmas mixtape. On Wednesday (December 21), The Roots co-founder and Academy Award winner joined NPR radio program Fresh Air with host Terry Gross to present his favorite holiday tunes, including tracks from DRAM (featuring his mother BigBabyMom), James Brown, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder.

Complimenting DRAM and BigBabyMom’s rendition of “Silver Bells” being “unique,” Quest also said he enjoys the “rawness” of their voices on the cover.

“It’s almost like him and his mom are allowing us to sort of eavesdrop at the family gathering where they’re just singing to each other,” “And I really love the fact that they didn’t overproduce this. This is a really raw version of the song. So it kind of hits home to me.”

During a brief segment of the program, Quest mentioned that his most memorable Christmas was held at the Dupont Plaza in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1982, where his father, Lee Andrews had a residency and would often hear Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

As Quest’s Christmas mixtape picks were unveiled, he added James Brown’s “Santa Claus, Santa Claus,” Akim & Teddy Vann’s “Santa Claus Is A Black Man,” a jingle from Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye’s “Christmas in the City.”

“‘Christmas in the City’ is just one of the most depressing-sounding, sad, lonely [songs] — it’s almost the music I would expect [from] the Charlie Brown Christmas special,” Quest said about the latter song. “[There’s] just something hilarious about hearing Marvin Gaye struggle with this monophonic synthesizer, turning it into the blues.”

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