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Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove

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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  2,732 ratings  ·  432 reviews
"You have to bear in mind that [Questlove] is one of the smartest motherf*****s on the planet. His musical knowledge, for all practical purposes, is limitless." --Robert Christgau

MO' META BLUES
The World According to Questlove

Mo' Meta Blues is a punch-drunk memoir in which Everyone's Favorite Questlove tells his own story while tackling some of the lates, the greats, the fa...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 18th 2013 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1st 2013)
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The House of Mirth by Edith WhartonThe City & the City by China MiévilleHard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki MurakamiMo' Meta Blues by Ahmir Questlove ThompsonThe Once and Future King by T. H. White
Gather 2013
4th out of 44 books — 5 voters
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen ChboskyThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerMagic America by C.E. MedfordSubmarine by Joe DunthorneIt's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
"Hipster"
23rd out of 76 books — 74 voters


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Community Reviews

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Rowena
“Music has the power to stop time. When I listen to songs, I'm transported back to the moment of their birth, which is sometimes even before the moment of my birth. Old songs, rock or soul or blues, still connect with me because the human emotions in them, whether jealousy or rage or hope, are recognizably similar to the emotions that I'm feeling now. But I'm feeling all of them, all the time, and so the songs act like a chemical process that isolates certain feelings at certain times: maybe on...more
David Dacosta
Mo’ Meta Blues substantiates all that I originally suspected about Questlove’s musical nerdom. As the child of a moderately successful former Do-Wop singer, coupled with an upbringing steeped in drumming, Quest seemed predestined for his current post as leader of the Grammy winning Hip Hop group The Roots. In the realm of percussion, his skill with the sticks is undeniable. Where things become doubtful, are in Questlove’s recollections of his childhood and music. To hear someone cite their grasp...more
Rob
Confession. To my knowledge, I've never heard a Roots song. Everything I know about the Roots comes from hearing them as the house band on Jimmy Fallon and on the wonderful viral videos of the group playing Call Me Maybe and Blurred Lines on kids instruments.

Truthfully, I went into the book hoping to read a bunch of Jimmy Fallon and celebrity stories. What I got instead was the story of a man my age who pours his love of music onto every page. ?uestlove shatters all of my hip hop stereotypes by...more
jeremy
"when you live your life through records, the records are a record of your life."™

drummer, dj, producer, and co-founder of the legendary roots crew, ahmir "questlove" thompson is a one of the music world's most virtuosic individuals. possessing talent in spades, ?uestlove's accomplishments are many, but it is his encyclopedic knowledge and abiding passion for music past and present that set him in another realm. mo' meta blues is indeed a music memoir, but the story of a life shaped by song most...more
Leigh
5 stars? And you gave David Byrne's book 4? What?!?! Yep. You aren't even a Roots fan, why?

Because Questlove made me head over heels in deep smit of him. Not just for his character as a human being, his intellectual mightiness, charm or even having the best stories about Prince ever...it was because he made me see music with a different lens and perspective than I had before. He renewed something in myself I lost. He made me fall in love with idea again that the records I love are testaments of...more
Alex
Anyone who has ever heard or read Questlove during an interview knows that he's probably the most unpretentiously scholarly musician on the scene today; he talks about music--his own and others'--in the way we're used to seeing filmmakers or novelists discuss their respective arts. The breadth and depth of his music knowledge would have to be unparalleled--it almost certainly is in the modern music industry--but what stands out the most about Questlove in interviews is his enthusiasm for music.

T...more
Casey
I don't usually read non-fiction and I honestly can't think of the last memoir I read. In light of that, Mo Meta was my natural choice to deviate from the norm, because I love The Roots. I've been a fan for a while now, and I admire Quest and the entire band as musicians. Plus, I'm from Philadelphia. There's something about being where an artist is from that makes you almost feel connected to them. To add to that, I grew up specifically in South Philly, so there was also that.

Anyone who follows...more
Edmole
My bro posts me this book from To, C A /Unwrapped it, thought, uh, okay
?uestlove wrote an auto, dude seems thoughtful, and it's only short essays/
Now I never had much truck with the music group The Roots/
From which the author grows out most his leaves and shoots/
They always seemed like worthy rap/A palliative for people that/
Didn't like it when the rappers/The rappers, yeah, who seemed so dapper/
Rapped about distasteful shit/And spoke of bitches, gangsters; skits/
Which centered on their dangly b...more
Cailin Deery
From a very young age, Questlove (Ahmir Thompson) is not only relatable, but shows real continuity of character. From his earliest memories, he’s thoughtful (and when it comes to the things that intrigue or move him: hopelessly absorbed), enthusiastic, stubborn, full of joy and easily embarrassed.

His anecdotes revolving around obsessions or inspirations of his are so endearing. For example, when he was about 8 and touring with his father’s doo-wop quintet (Lee Andrews & the Hearts) he ran i...more
Joshua
I've never listened to a single Roots album, don't listen to hip-hop, neo-soul, never watched a single episode of the late night TV show hosted by Jimmy Fallon that features The Roots as the house band...yet I read and enjoyed this music stuffed memoir by Roots drummer Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson. I love music and Questlove has dedicated himself to so many kinds of music that it makes me feel a bit lazy and narrow minded even though my combination of albums/CDs/cassettes number over 5,000 if I ad...more
Candace
Jun 16, 2013 Candace rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: music lovers
I absolutely loved this book. I enjoyed the musical journey that Questlove shares with the reader as he talks about the early years of his life. He provides awesome playlist that just make you want to dance. This book would be great as an enhance media document where you could listen and download music as you read. I would also like to see some the album covers that he describes so beautifully.

Questlove shares a lot of personal stories in the memoir. He talks about attending the prom with a beau...more
Michael F. Feeney
Aug 09, 2013 Michael F. Feeney rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Music lovers
Recommended to Michael F. by: John Oliver, The Daily Show
What a brilliant read. Saw Quest talking to John Oliver on the Daily Show about the book and was spellbound, as was Oliver. He is such an amazing presence; a walking dictionary of music who is inspired by the sounds and can't wait to discuss it with you. The book engages, takes to you Quest's visual & vivid recollections of his moments frozen in time and inextricably linked to a particular song. Makes you think about the songs that define your timeline and life.
Andre
Questlove is obviously a music junkie. This fact shines throughout the book. His passion for music and hip hop is infectious. As I was reading about the various studio sessions surrounding Roots albums, I started listening to the Roots. The memoir is pretty straight forward, notwithstanding the fact that he states in the introduction this is something he wanted to avoid. What makes the linear approach work in this particular case, is the soundtrack of his memory. Each period of his life he talks...more
Chris
So, I'll start by saying that Robert Christgau reviewed this better than I ever could: http://bnreview.barnesandnoble.com/t5...

I don't have a ton to add except: I usually find reading about music and music biographies a bore. I'm the person who clicks onto Pitchfork every day, checks the scores of all the new reviews, and doesn't read a single word. So why did I devour every sentence Questlove used to describe his favorite albums and the making of each and every Roots record? For me, it's becaus...more
Sarah
I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of this book. It took me down memory lane and I found myself swept away by the nostalgia of the music of my childhood. But the further I got into Questlove's memoir, the more I grew tired of him. He wrote much of the book as if he alone is The Roots. There is minimal recognition of the other band members and their contribution to their extensive discography. He repeatedly refers to Black Thought as a "virtuoso rhymer" but fails to put Tariq's skills in context...more
Ki
I've been reading books about music lately - Keith Richard's book, Greg Allman's, Neil Young's, books about women songwriters from the 60's and 70's, books about groupies, and even tried to slog through a Greil Marcus book, which was just too damn much like college to be any fun. Side note: his thoughts on how rock n' roll mirrors the loneliness, alienation, and simultaneous sense of hope, adventure, and connection that the American dream repeatedly promises and fails to deliver spoke to me.

So,...more
Joel Neff
Like a lot of people, I was intrigued when I heard that The Roots would be taking the slot as the house band when Jimmy Fallon took over The Late Show. I knew who they were, of course; you can't skirt the edges of hip-hop and R&B without having run into them at some point. And I liked them even though I'd never made the transition to out and out fan. They were one of those bands that I liked whenever they showed up on something else I was actively paying attention to: a new record by Common...more
Rhome Anderson
Ahmir Thompson is one of the most important figures in black music from my generation, possibly the most important. He's been generous over his career with sharing tons of information, from expansive liner notes to his constant online interactions, but it all needed to be collected in one place. This memoir is everything I hoped it would be, and while some may find the fractured narrative style distracting, I think it fits his work, his personality and our modern age. I can only hope that he has...more
Kathleen
Usually I wouldn't read a music memoir, because I'm not particularly cool. I can't even name every Roots album, and I sure can't discuss musical theory. On a very good day, I can occasionally recognize a song from the first few bars. More often, I get it wrong. I don't have the ear, head, or background for real music appreciation.

But I do know all the words to False Media and I heard Questlove talking about this book somewhere, sounding smart, so I picked it up. He doesn't just sound smart.

Thi...more
Zombieaps
I loved it. Questlove savors music of all kinds, and all of the albums he gives in an inside scoop in are ones that I've listened to over and over. In some ways what the books serves to do is to give certain albums to you in their own sauce. I'll skip the specifics of the story and only add this: Questlove get around the constraints of a typical memoir with some fun gimmicks that make the book move. The presence of Rich and Ben Greenman make the book "meta" indeed, but in a really enjoyable way....more
Toni
From the start, Questlove (in an interview with himself) contends that he doesn't want this to be a straight forward memoir and wants to do something different in telling his story. This new format includes inserting letters from the co-writer to the editor (both named Ben) about the process & progress of the book which I found distracting. It also has footnotes throughout by Richard Nichols, the longtime co-manager of The Roots, as a counterpoint to Questlove's narrative, which I really enj...more
John
I don’t own any Roots music. I don’t even follow Questlove on Twitter. I do catch Jimmy Fallon once or twice a week. But I jumped at the opportunity to read this book, and I was not disappointed. Questlove has always struck me as thoughtful, deep and reflective, and his memoirs hit that mark.

The first two thirds of the book was a little stronger than the last part. The book even seems to acknowledge this by talking about how it is easier to put things into prospective the farther away they are....more
Dave
I've never been able to get into The Roots that much. I've heard songs here and there. In theory I like the idea of the band, but overall I've found them to be hard to approach. I think I know why after reading Questlove's book. Growing up around music in West Philly (his parents were touring musicians), he has a vast knowledge of American music over the past half a decade plus. Music has completely defined his life and often in the book he's able to retell a story based on the record that he wa...more
Danielle-aneesha
Loved this! Questlove and The Roots occupy 99% of the soundtrack of the most important moments of my life. I couldn't contain my excitement when I ran to the bookstore to purchase this book. I had to force myself not to read through it in two days because I wanted to prolong the journey as long as I could. ?uestLove welcomed us graciously into his childhood & earliest experiences with music & the formation of The Roots. I fell in love with the relationship between Black Thought & his...more
Andrew Spencer
I worked for Ahmir Questlove Thompson for about 6 months, as part of the Okayplayer family. It was a dream come true in so many ways. I met some amazing people during that time and made some friends in the Philly music scene that I am still in touch with now.

I never got to know Quest (we shook hands once or twice), he was busy making Phrenology (and quite a lot of other records). I didn't expect to get to know him, but everyone I know that knows him always said what an amazing person he is. I c...more
James
As a long time fan of The Roots and early 90's hip hop in general I felt Questlove's bio would be a great read, full of musical, cultural and personal insights. I wasn't disappointed, though from a story telling perspective it sometimes felt strained and forced.. Like he was specifically asked to fill a certain quota of celebrity stories.

First the good:
The guy's a legend, worked with artists and producers ranging from Q tip, Mos Def (Yasiin Bey), Lauren Hill, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu to Jay Z...more
Ian C-K
I was first introduced to the Roots in 1999, when I purchased Things Fall Apart and attended their show at Eastern Michigan University. As I dissected ?ueslove's liner notes with my high school friends, we spent plenty of time hypothesizing about the book that ?uest would inevitably write.

Well, 14 years later, it finally happened. He delivers exactly what his fans wanted, for the most part: descriptions of his childhood, analysis of each Roots album, several Prince stories, and short vignettes a...more
Niklas Pivic
Jul 06, 2013 Niklas Pivic rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: music freaks, fans of late 1990s hip-hop/R&B
How can a man in his early forties hope to really talk about his life as a whole? It’s like reviewing the first half of a song.

While this faux-memoir by Questlove, part founder, drummer, songwriter and tastemaker in The Roots, one of the most influential bands to come out of the USA in the R&B/hip-hop movements, is loose, conjoined and at its worst rushed and unhinged, that is also its main strength; early in the book, Questlove questions (pun not intended) the absence of comments from other...more
Tim
While Kanye West sees himself as Hip Hop's resident geek, in all actuality this mantle is a better fit for Questove, the drummer from the Roots. Energy (for records, sounds, music, and ideas) crackles throughout this book as Questlove expounds on the history and evolution of the genre. While the book sidles next to the memoir track for most of its entirety, it codas to introspective and reflexive asides, hence the "Meta" portion of the title. Questlove provides space for the pondering of his man...more
Judeanne
A rare musician's memoir. Not full of drug addled escapades, lacking sophomoric tour events, and chockerblock full of musical and personal insight.

Beyond that simple blurb, Questlove cast both light and shadow over his identity as Ahmir and his persona as Questlove, asking himself the questions some of us fear to contemplate. All this is done in a new and exciting format for a memoir by including footnotes/dialog from Richard Nichols, manager of The Roots, and memos between Ben Greenman and him...more
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Ahmir Khalib Thompson (born January 20, 1971), known professionally as ?uestlove or Questlove (also known as BROther ?uestion, Questo, Brother Question or Qlove), is an American drummer, DJ, music journalist and record producer.

He is best known as the drummer and joint frontman (with Black Thought) for the Grammy Award-winning band The Roots, serving since February 17, 2014 as the in-house band f...more
More about Ahmir Questlove Thompson...
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“And even though people like to furrow their brow like they suspect you're not being honest about yourself, the truth is that they worry that you're not serving their idea of you.” 7 likes
“When you live your life through records, the records are a record of your life.” 5 likes
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