Bookmarks: Toe-licking good
A memoir of sorts- Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson gives a first-person insight to his life from his earliest memories in his hometown of Philadelphia to his lifelong membership of, and leading up to his current gig, a member of The Roots. The Roots is now the band for “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” However, it is common knowledge that an individual memory is flawed, and Thompson’s editor, Ben Greenman, provides ample corrections in the form of a few pages long chapter recaps and the end of each chapter in the first half, and what turns into hilarious footnotes throughout the second half. “Mo Meta Blues” is a fly-on-the-wall perspective on what was then the burgeoning world of hip hop- if that fly participated on that world by playing drums in The Roots. Both within that pocket of the music industry and without, Thompson gives a backseat driver look at how music in black culture developed around and with his participation. Because The Roots never got to the same level of fame and fortune as other hip hop and rhythm and blues artists that they partied or collaborated with, Thompson was able to avoid the rise-and-crash story that we see with artists today.
Thompson expresses major discontent with the lukewarm reception The Roots had always received until they got the job with “Late Nught with Jimmy Fallon.” There is a familiarity with all of the artists mentioned, not only because they are still relevant today, but because Thompson presents his world of hip hop as an extended family of overlapping social circles, and as a globally spread microcosm of artists all playing off of each other.
“Mo Meta Blues” is also full of unique and weird anecdotes, like roller skating with Prince, and walking out of a toe-licking contest judged by Tracey Morgan. I wish I was kidding, but, on the whole, “Mo Meta Blues” is a reassuring book for college students. Thompson was pressured by his parents to succeed in a tough market. At the time it was music- family struggles, even unique struggles like being a adolescent drummer for his father’s lounge band. It’s a firsthand account of chasing dreams, not quite succeeding, disappointment, rejection, more disappointment, getting in trouble with guests on the show you play music for, and finally finding a niche to really be happy in.
It gives this returning college student hope for eventually finding the light at the end of the tunnel.