Music

A Running Diary Of One Hour Spent Listening To Questlove’s Radio Show On Pandora


On Wednesday, Pandora ventured into new territory with the premiere of “Questlove Supreme,” a weekly radio show hosted by Questlove of the Roots. The show, a musical conversation of sorts between Quest and an assortment of guests, is meant to help Pandora compete in the cutthroat, seemingly endless streaming wars. The debut episode’s special guest was Maya Rudolph, who was brought on to talk about her and Questlove’s mutual love of Prince, how she grew up in a musical household and more.

The show kicked off at 1 p.m. Eastern time. However, I didn’t turn in until 2 p.m. But hey, when I did, I took notes as I listened for an hour, interested to hear what “Questlove Supreme” had to offer.

2:03 p.m. I tune in, just in time for Questlove to say that they’re taking a break to go eat some fried chicken and then, coming as not much of a surprise, he plays Michael McDonald’s “Sweet Freedom” from the ’80s buddy cop comedy Running Scared.

2:05 p.m. The white dude funk of McDonald is followed by…what the heck…is this…”Too Many Colors?”

Hold on, I need to Google this. *Googles “Too Many Colors* Hey, it turns out the song, performed by the late Teena Marie and featured on the track was none other than a 7-year-old Maya Rudolph. Yeah, crazy, huh? See Rudolph’s dad was Richard Rudolph, who was an influential producer and songwriter in the late 1970s and 1980s, and worked with everyone from Stevie Wonder to A Tribe Called Quest and her mom was soul singer Minnie Ripperton, who most famously sang “Lovin’ You.”

2:09 p.m. Coming off a discussion about the style and spirit of 1970s soul music, Questlove points out that a lot of that has found its way into Rudolph’s comedy and acting.

2:12 p.m. NAME-DROPPING ALERT. Rudolph casually mentions that she met the Jacksons (as in the Jacksons) in the late 1970s and one of the Jacksons (not Michael, he was too shy) helped her with her math homework. I bet it was Jermaine.

2:13 p.m. Here’s a fun fact for you, Stevie Wonder’s autograph includes his thumb print. Predictably Questlove tried to cop that move when he was younger.

2:18 p.m. Maya talks about her first musical loves and for a second, thinks that her first love might have been Duran Duran. But on second thought, she leans toward Stewart Copeland of the Police. It’s also at this point that I start to realize that this is less of a radio show per say and more of a podcast. I also realize that there might not be anything wrong with that.

2:2o p.m. Now they start talking about Prince and they talk a lot about Prince. This makes sense. Questlove has never been one to shy away from a Prince-related conversation. Rudolph is also a big Prince fan — as she’s in a cover band herself — and shocks the room with her admission that her father took her to see Purple Rain. Questlove says he wasn’t able to see the movie, recalling that Prince was essentially the devil in his house.

2:23 p.m. If you’ve read Questlove’s memoir, Mo’ Meta Blues, then you know that growing up, he was a good kid. Black Thought was the trouble-maker, while Questlove was the music nerd. Questlove is the music nerd. This comes up in the Prince-discussion with Questlove talking about how he was never out late, never strayed, obeyed the rules and when he was told to come straight home from school, he came right home.

2:24 p.m. When it came to watching MTV in the early 1980s, Questlove was just patiently waiting for a video from one of his favorite black acts.


Questlove-Prince
Getty Image

2:27 p.m. According to Questlove, everyone who grew up in the early 1980s and was a Prince fan, has a “Soft and Wet” story. “Soft and Wet” being a song off of Prince’s 1978 album For You. Questlove’s story revolves around the death of his grandfather when he was 7 years old and how in an effort to shield him from his mother dealing with it, his sister whisked him upstairs to her room, placed giant headphones on him and blasted the song. From then on, Questlove spent the next several years hiding his love of Prince from his parents, something he said made “life hell in West Philadelphia.” Prince’s music sounded futuristic to him; sounding like something he had never heard before. He was hooked.

2:32 p.m. Rudolph was a fan of Prince, but really got into him when his band, the Revolution, incorporated some ladies — ladies Rudolph didn’t want to just be like, but just be period. Specifically Rudolph wanted to be Wendy Melvoin, who joined the band as a guitarist.

2:33 p.m. Hey, it’s music time again and once again, I have no idea what song this is. Shazam!

Surprise, surprise but none other than Richard Rudolph co-wrote that song. I’m sensing a theme when it comes to Questlove’s music choices.

2:41 p.m. “Spice of Life” by the Manhattan Transfer? Sure, why not!

2:45 p.m. Music time is over, but this is not the part of the show where we do a deep dive into Rudolph’s acting. Questlove says we’re skipping that. Instead, they talk about Princess, the Prince cover band Rudolph sings in. It’s not any cover band though, Rudolph says defiantly. “It’s so f*cking legit” and comes from “a very real place.”

2:50 p.m. Questlove and crew are now trading stories about visiting Paisley Park, Prince’s estate outside of Minneapolis. Apparently Questlove always felt like he was being watched when he was there and one time told Erykah Badu to watch out for the eyes moving in paintings. She naturally flashed a painting she thought was watching her (because it’s Prince and it probably was.) Yet despite that and despite the fact that the house was wired with microphones everywhere so in the event that Prince felt the need to workshop a song running through his head, he could do so without setting anything up or even moving where he was, Questlove maintains that both the house and Prince were actually pretty normal. The house was full of TV/VCR combos, Sega Genesis consoles and much to Questlove’s delight, three different copies of the A Tribe Called Quest classic Midnight Marauders. So yeah, in closing — Prince: totally normal dude.

2:54 p.m. Musical curveball!

“My Head is the Sun” by the Rentals is a head-scratcher. How does it fit the theme? Does it fit the theme? Is there even a theme or have I been wrong the whole time? Nope. I was right and it of course falls totally in line with the theme because wait for it, Rudolph briefly played with the Rentals, a band fronted by Matt Sharp, who was an original member of Weezer. Rudolph provided back-up vocals on “My Head is the Sun.”

I will never doubt Questlove again, but I will definitely listen to “Questlove Supreme” again.

×