The Questions: Questlove on Roots Picnic Prep and Finding The Perfect DJ

A decade into its tenure at South Philly’s Penn’s Landing, Roots Picnic is still the ultimate early summer retreat for just about any head. This year was no exception; with a career retrospective of Pharrell‘s countless chart-toppers with the city’s own Roots crew leading the charge. Yes, Tyler The Creator, Pusha T, N.O.R.E. and SWV all managed to fit into the same millennial god dream, but it certainly makes you wonder what kind of twisted and well-networked mind might conjure up a generation-bridging spectacle of this sort.

READ: The Faces of Roots Picnic 2017: Backstage Portraits by Shayan Asgharnia

Answer: Questlove, a man who describes himself as a predictable night-owl type that keeps his brain busy with a grip of side-projects (all in third-person.) In fact, The Roots drummer offered us much more than that: how he preps for the Picnic (no baskets or cloth, just diligent Soundcloud scraping) and a couple of handy, totally unaffiliated sites that keep his thumb firmly wrapped around the drumstick of the contemporary music landscape. In an exclusive announcement, he reveals producer Stro Elliot — who performed with the group that night — had permanently joined their ranks, comparing the ever-expanding roster to the notoriously swole Earth, Wind & Fire.

READ: 10 Years Strong, Roots Picnic Remains a Singular All-Star Festival Experience 

Watch Questlove recount meeting J Dilla in Detroit and talk up the newest member of the team in the clip below. Stay tuned for parts two through five in the days ahead.


Zo is a staff writer at Okayplayer where he covers music.

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