Questlove grew up in West Philadelphia, his father a pioneering doo-wop singer and his mother a model and dancer. His older sister Donn and he completed the family: close-knit, music-centric, and lively. From an early age, Quest understood the value of music and music culture. His father was a touring musician who had an old school allegiance to motown, melodic soft rock, and jazz artists like Nat King Cole. His older sister went to a predominantly white private school and was turned on to the mainstream rock of the 70s and 80s. Questo mentions that his sister’s rock collection proved worthy when delving into the deep sample driven qualities of Paul’s Boutique. His mother was a more adventurous crate digger, listening to funk, jazz, and soul records. She would often be attracted to the whole packaging of the record, engaged by the cover art more than the sounds, a quality that Questlove admits to inheriting. These distinctive influences gave him a versatile musical palate from an early age.
But his influences didn’t just stem from the house, they came from touring with his father’s band. During the rise of motown and funk music, Lee Andrews, Quest’s father, embarked on a doo-wop revival tour with his band, Lee Andrews and The Hearts. So unlike many of the kids in his neighborhood, young Quest would hop on a plane and fly across the country for a weekend, or stay a week at a resort while his father did a string of shows. Sometimes he would watch, sometimes he would do lights, and as he got older he would sit in at drums. Traveling and working in show business was an integral part of Questlove’s life growing up, so it’s no surprise that he’s become a workaholic, surrounding himself with flocks of talented musicians, working a day job at Fallon, and DJing into the night. Unlike many come-up hip hop memoirs, Quest was tailored for greatness from an early age.