7. Gaining inspiration from peers: J Dilla
From a production standpoint, J Dilla was Questlove’s biggest influence. Quest was shocked when he was first exposed to Dilla's music; enamored by the beats and inspired by the originality. He even says that listening to Slum Village was a “messiah moment.” Hell, he compares Jay Dee to Prince and Hendrix! The deep love for Dilla and what he was able to produce in his short life is certainly present. Soulquarians—a super group consisting of Common, Dilla, D’Angelo, and Questlove—began working together (more accurately just brainstorming) around ’99 and Y2K. Essentially they birthed the idea of neo-soul: a defining term for a movement in the late 90s incorporating conventional soul and R&B elements with jazz, funk, and hip hop influences.
These four guys were creating new ways of sounding, bouncing ideas off of each other, and competing to who would be the truly pioneering artist amongst. Dilla died in ’06 at 32-years-old. Questo pays the utmost respect to him and the complex recordings he released. Dilla’s signature style of deconstructive sampling, layering beats and rearranging them on his own work, is a careful skill that Quest has never stopped admiring. Much of Questlove’s since owes influence from Dilla, and frankly, I’m surprised the book isn’t dedicated to him.