Nine Poppy Picks From ?uestlove’s Non-Rap Productions


?uestlove’s stock is at an all-time high. His stint as house band-leader on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon was recently complimented by a profile in The New Yorker; you might even peep his face on subway billboards around the city as he clocks up his Sonos endorsement money. Tonight he’ll be spinning at one of his regular Bowl Train shindigs at the Brooklyn Bowl–a night where he’s known to stray from airing out the sort of hip-hop he makes with the Roots to delve through his eclectic crates. With that in mind, here’s a bunch of notable selections from ?uesto’s (vast) non-rap vault, as both producer and drum-master-for-hire.

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Amy Winehouse, “Valerie (’68 Version)”
Mark Ronson may be credited with masterminding Amy Winehouse’s cover of the Zutons’ “Valerie,” but it’s ?uesto’s fierce drums the propel this fine alternate take.

Erykah Badu, “2000 AD”
Ms. Badu is every rapper’s most popular head-wrap chick–not to mention sometimes very real bedfellow–and for her sophomore Mama’s Gun album ?uesto snagged two co-producer credits, for “Penitentiary Philosophy” and “2000 AD.” The former is sparked by typically ?uest-ian sounding drums, but it’s the latter cut that throws up a coy surprise, being book-ended by an acoustic guitar lick.

D’Angelo, “Everybody Loves The Sunshine”
?uestlove and D’Angelo are studio pals, but the b-side to the soul singer’s mega-hit “Untitled (How Does It Feel?)” plays host to a gem of a collaboration as they team up to run through an emotive cover of the Roy Ayers standard. The instrumental run-out groove is exquisite.

Joss Stone, “Fell In Love With A Boy”
More Brit chick action: Now holding court in the producer’s chair, ?uestlove concocts a perky groove for Ms. Stone to do her warbling thing over. The baseline positively swaggers.

Nikka Costa, “Happy In The Morning”
A former foil of Mark Ronson, Nikka Costa’s career never managed to capitalize on the success of her early 2000 hit “Like A Feather.” Still, songs like “Happy In The Morning” are imbued with a funkafied charm, in part due to ?uestlove’s drum work.

Fiona Apple, “Get Him Back”
More white girl singer-songwriter action: You know how this one goes, with ?uesto’s drum lines being employed to funk up Ms. Apple’s recording session. Long-time Dr. Dre cohort Mike Elizondo adds the Moog bass tones.

Booker T. Jones feat. Lou Reed, “The Bronx”
Taking the old to the new, ?uestlove was invited to provide drum duties for r&b icon Booker T. Jones’s 2011 album The Road From Memphis. His stick work comes off as ruggedly authentic, although at times you suspect guest vocalist Lou Reed was attempting to impersonate Mark Knopfler.

Jason Mraz, “Geek In The Pink”
The Thompson and Elizondo combo in action again, here adding pep to a song that at times flirts with breaking out into a cover of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up.”

Christina Aguilera, “Keep On Singin’ My Song”
Aguilera’s sure got pipes, and here she trills defiantly over a stripped-down backing track–until ?uesto airs out his ol’ “You Got Me” trick and flips into a drum-n-bass-styled rhythm for the song’s closing section.

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