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Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson is one of music’s most respected and recognized artists and visionaries. He’s achieved this rarefied status through a dizzying panorama of artistic endeavors beyond “just” being drummer and bandleader of shape-shifting hip-hop live act, the Roots.

While the Roots have existed for more than 20 years through countless live shows, innovative recordings, and a high-profile position as Jimmy Fallon’s house band on The Tonight Show, Questlove’s place among the pop culture elite has been earned through his ability to channel his outsized personality into the public consciousness.

Easily identifiable with his impressive Afro adorned with a black power hair pick sticking from the top, Questlove has used a variety of means to reveal his true nature: one of the world’s most dedicated and obsessive music lovers.

Whether he’s penning a heartfelt essay on the impact of Michael Jackson throughout his life, authoring a book on the importance of Soul Train on black America or weaving true-life stories like the time Prince replaced him on the turntables with a showing of Finding Nemo, Questlove’s secret weapon is his unwavering dedication to just being himself.

It’s that hardcore inner fan that he’s unleashed on Questlove Supreme, his new weekly three-hour radio show on Pandora that he’s dubbed as “the black nerd version of NPR.”

Featuring a rotating cast of guests including Maya Rudolph and Kimbra, the show allows Questlove to open his vast catalog of music and share all of it with the world.

This is the six degrees of Questlove.

NEO SOUL PIONEER

While the Roots were busy establishing their reputation as hip-hop’s premier live band, Questlove was expanding his musical horizons as a primary member of the Soulquarians. A collective of like-minded artists (including J Dilla, James Poyser and Q-Tip) pushing black music into uncharted territories, the Soulquarians were the driving force behind influential albums from D'Angelo (Voodoo), Erykah Badu (Mama’s Gun), Common (Like Water for Chocolate) and Bilal (1st Born Second).

“I’m a cynic when it comes to astrology. But when the members of the Soulquarians realized that we all share a love for ‘sickness’ in our work — offbeat rhythms, unorthodox chords, stacks of harmony, an overall rebellious attitude to the status quo — and to top it off, that we’re all Aquarians, we knew it wasn’t just a coincidence,” Questlove said in back in 2000. “Perhaps the stars play a role in our genuine love for the unknown.”

SONIC CHAMELEON

Questlove is far from just a hip-hop/soul savant. His sonic abilities have led him to work with artists across all genres. He’s enlisted such indie rock icons as My Morning Jacket’s Jim James and Sufjan Stevens to collaborate on Roots tracks. Elvis Costello recruited the Roots for 2013’s collaborative album, Wise Up Ghost. He manned the kit on Fiona Apple's song “Not About Love” from her Extraordinary Machine LP (“She was so shy about asking me to play on her album, but I couldn’t have been happier,” Questlove revealed). Steven Van Zandt recruited the drummer to join an all-star band including Little Richard, Bernie Worrell, Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick and Joe Perry of Aerosmith to back Hank Williams Jr. on his song “All My Rowdy Friends are Coming Over Tonight” for the ESPN debut of Monday Night Football. He played drums on Christina Aguilera’s “Loving Me 4 Me” for her 2001 album Stripped. He also played drums for John Mayer on the 2003 single, “Clarity,” from Mayer’s Heavier Things full-length. And that’s just scratching the surface.

COMIC RELIEF

While he can nerd out with the best of them and be deadly serious about the music, Questlove is also quite funny. With the Roots serving as Jimmy Fallon’s house band on The Tonight Show, he has plenty of opportunities to get in on the jokes, starring in skits and playing the straight man to Fallon’s jokes. He also has a long-running history with Dave Chappelle, including the famous barbershop skit on Chappelle’s Show with pal John Mayer. And while not exactly comedy, the drummer realized a personal fantasy of playing a dead body on Law and Order: SVU with a 17-second cameo on the long-running NBC crime drama alongside his friend Ice-T.

FOOD VISIONARY

Questlove has become quite the foodie, following a Chelsea Market fried chicken spot with a series of star-studded food salons in his Manhattan apartment and his most recent book, Something to Food About: Exploring Creativity With Innovative Chefs. None less than Anthony Bourdain has dubbed him as “a fully made member of the chef mafia.” He’s also very particular about hydration, revealing to US Weekly that he hadn’t consumed even a single drop of tap water in 30 years. Back in 2013, he joined Padma Lakshmi on Top Chef as a guest judge with a fried chicken leg challenge. And of course, there’s his classic story about his dream of eating Patti Labelle’s legendary home-cooked soul food.

“This was a journey (a fun tasty one at that) into the lives of Culinary Creatives,” he explained about the inspirations behind his book on food. “When I took my journey to Japan to eat #Jiro’s sushi I was shocked that he referenced himself as an artist. Not a chef. I was thrown for a loop but it made total sense to me. I was willing to shell out good money and travel at a moments notice more than 21 hours for 18 pieces of sushi. Soon after I never looked at food’s role in our lives the same.”

Fans can follow his food-focused exploits on the Instagram account QuestLovesFood.

HIP-HOP HISTORIAN

Questlove’s extensive musical knowledge has resulted in a series of loving and intensely personal essays on subjects ranging from Michael Jackson to Prince to an entire book based on the pioneering TV show, Soul Train. He was even tapped by NYU to teach a course called Classic Albums.

“I’m enjoying the fact that someone’s trusting all the knowledge I’ve accumulated in the last four decades with these students,” he explained in an interview. “I’m really enjoying it, and I’m learning a lot myself. This is my passive aggressive way of entering academia without having to pay for it.”
RADIO REVOLUTIONARY

Now, Questlove has partnered with Pandora on a revolutionary new radio show, Questlove Supreme, where he can bring his panorama of musical inspirations and influences together into one big sonic melting pot.

“I want a world in which Drake’s ‘One Dance’ can also live with Frank Zappa’s ‘Uncle Meat’ can live with James Brown’s ‘Talkin’ Loud and Sayin’ Nothing,’ and all stops in between,” he surmised to the New York Times about the show. “This is a commitment deeper than any girlfriend I’ve ever had, or any diet I’ve tried to stick to.”
LATEST EPISODE! EPISODE 6: SHEP GORDON

Alice Cooper, Rick James, Teddy Pendergrass… this week’s guest on Questlove Supreme, legendary entertainment manager Shep Gordon, has worked with them all. From the moment he teamed up with Alice Cooper to create a parent-scaring sensation, Gordon’s love for the pomp and circumstance of pop music found him crafting careers for some of the biggest acts and hit-makers of the ‘70s and ‘80s.

The star of actor Michael Myers’ critically-acclaimed 2014 documentary, Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon, Gordon regaled Questlove with an endless stream of amazing and revealing stories from his dynamic career.

Listen to Questlove Supreme live exclusively on Pandora Radio Wednesdays at 10:00 a.m. PST/1:00 p.m. EST

EPISODE 5: ALAN LEEDS

Make sure Gene Simmons has an adequate fruit salad waiting in his hotel room after a show. Never cancel a James Brown show, no matter how sick he is, unless he tells you to do so himself. These are just some of the intimate, behind the scenes stories legendary tour manager, Alan Leeds, shared on this week’s episode of Questlove Supreme.

Starting his music career interviewing James Brown for a college radio station, Leeds would go on to work for the hardest working man in show business for years. D’Angelo, Chris Rock, KISS — Leeds has worked closely with some of pop culture’s biggest icons during their most important moments.

Listen to Questlove Supreme live exclusively on Pandora Radio Wednesdays at 10:00 a.m. PST/1:00 p.m. EST

EPISODE 4: THE REVOLUTION

It was a landmark episode of Questlove Supreme this week as the entire crew made a pilgrimage to Minneapolis for exclusive interviews with Prince’s legendary band, the Revolution.

Wendy and Susannah Melvoin, Lisa Coleman, Brown Mark, Bobby Z., Matt Fink, Dez Dickerson and Andre Cymone were all present to share intimate, hilarious and often poignant stories of their time spent making music and indelible memories with the inimitable Prince Rogers Nelson.

The show is essential for true fans, packed with behind the scenes accounts of private and pivotal moments in Prince’s career, from the time he and the band were booed off the stage while opening for the Rolling Stones in Los Angeles to the inspiration for the song “Starfish and Coffee” — all from people who were there as they happened.

Listen to Questlove Supreme live exclusively on Pandora Radio Wednesdays at 10:00 a.m. PST/1:00 p.m. EST

EPISODE 3: DANTE ROSS
Few people have had as intimate a relationship with hip-hop’s golden age as Dante Ross. As an integral force behind the scenes of such seminal artists as Queen Latifah and Digital Underground, Ross had a front row seat to the birth of hip-hop through it’s initial breakout as a lifestyle and culture phenomenon. As the esteemed guest on this week’s episode of Questlove Supreme on Pandora Radio, he shared a wealth of memories from his time spent at the vanguard of rap during some of its most important moments. Ross took listeners back to 1989, when he was present with De La Soul while they recorded their groundbreaking debut, 3 Feet High and Rising, through 2000 when he won a Grammy for his work on Santana’s Supernatural, and beyond.

Listen to Questlove Supreme live exclusively on Pandora Radio Wednesdays at 10:00 a.m. PST/1:00 p.m. EST

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