Questlove Interview: ‘Detroit’ songwriter
During our recent webcam chat (watch the exclusive video above) Questlove (Ahmir-Khalib Thompson) reveals that when Kathryn Bigelow first contacted him about penning an original song for her film “Detroit,” she wanted him to “watch it with the least amount of information possible.” Additionally, “she said, ‘I’m gonna let you process it for 48 hours, and then you tell me if you’d like to do it.'” The film turned out to be a brutal docudrama about the 1967 Detroit riots, centering around the murder of three black men during an all-night raid at the Algiers Motel. “Detroit” was released this past summer and will be re-released in theaters on December 1.
“For me, personally, you couldn’t help but internalize the fear and pain of watching that 45-minute torture scene,” he reveals, referring to the film’s extended sequence inside the motel. Watching “Detroit” stirred up many emotions for the famous musician, including “the one area of my life that I rarely share on social media, which is the number of time I get pulled over in my vehicle. It’s been, I’d say, a steady six times a year, but always with the same results: window rolls down, they look, [say] ‘Oh, it’s you! Love your work, man. Sorry about that.'” The people at the Algiers motel “didn’t have that benefit of the doubt. That scenario is literally my worst nightmare.” From this, the song “It Ain’t Fair” was born.
Questlove is best known as the drummer and frontman for “The Roots,” for which he’s won three Grammys. He recently won a Grammy for the “Hamilton” original Broadway cast album in 2016, and has competed at the Daytime Emmys for “Nickelodeon Presents History and Heritage” in 2011. In 2009, The Roots became the house band for “Last Night with Jimmy Fallon,” moving over to “The Tonight Show” in 2014. He is on the selection committee for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.