6. Gaining inspiration from peers: D’Angelo
D’Angelo and J Dilla are the two artists that Questo has gained the greatest inspiration from since working with, aside from the Roots. While escaping the infamous ’95 Source Awards, someone handed him D’Angelo’s debut album, Brown Sugar, and it intrigued him. He goes as far as to say it changed his life. D’Angelo was making R&B tracks over raw hip-hop production, and that nostalgic, yet innovative approach struck a deep chord with Quest. Once the two met up, and shared obscure 70s soul influences and confessed their shared love of Prince, they began to work together and craft Voodoo. This partnership became the second biggest project in Questlove’s career, as he quickly became the “copilot” of the record.
Working with D’Angelo and creating something different from what Quest was comfortable with was an experience that allowed him to explore other avenues from within the hip-hop genre. It allowed him to be more sonically flexible when playing with the Roots and trust his experimental instincts. There was a time after Things Fall Apart when Voodoo was Questlove’s main project. And then there was the inevitable tour, which meant an unpopular hiatus from the Roots. But the fact that this was such a no-brainer for Quest illuminates his deep connection to D’Angelo and the music they created together. He even admits, “As a drummer, as a musician, as a lover of music, I had experienced some of the most transformative days of my life working on Voodoo…”