In recent years, the relationship between Prince and Questlove has been most famous for the time Prince chose a Finding Nemo DVD in favor of Questlove’s DJing. But that encounter is a poor indication of their relationship, as the two have worked together in the past, and Prince is actually something of a hero to The Roots’ leader.
Questlove recently penned an essay for Rolling Stone about Prince, in which he reminisces about being 11 and having to hide his Prince records from his conservative parents, and the gigantic impact The Purple One had on his life: “Prince was in my ears and he was in my head. Starting then, I patterned everything in my life after Prince,” he wrote. “I had older half-brothers, but Prince — unknown to me then, but not unseen or unheard, thanks to magazines, TV, radio, and my secret stash — was a guide to me in every way.”
He also shared a story about the time Prince made him pay into a swear jar:
Later on, I got into the music business myself. I got to meet Prince several times. I roller-skated with him. I went to parties that he threw. But I always felt like a fan, never a peer. I remember once I was at Paisley Park. By this time, Prince was a Jehovah’s Witness, and he didn’t stand for cursing. I slipped up. It wasn’t anything too major. I think I said “shit.” Prince had a curse jar; every curse cost a dollar. “But you’re rich,” he said. “Put in $20.”
Questlove also wrote about Prince’s relationship with hip-hop, which he said “has been the subject of much scrutiny,” but Questlove said that “at heart, he was more hip-hop than anyone”:
Prince was an outlaw. When he was giving interviews on the regular to Cynthia Horner in Right On! magazine, he was telling tall tales left and right. That was hip-hop. He built a crew, a posse, around his look and his sense of style. That was hip-hop. He had beef (with Rick James). He had his own vanity label (Paisley Park). He had parents up in arms over the content of his songs to the point where they had to invent the Parental Advisory warning. Hip-hop, hip-hop, hip-hop.
Read the entirety of Questlove’s essay here.