Questlove opened up about his career while sitting on the “Storyteller” panel for the Tribeca Film Festival. While discussing his trajectory in the industry, The Roots music maker opened up about Kanye West and the moment he knew the rapper would surpass him in his career.
“I knew it wasn’t going to last forever and so there was this moment I describe in which we were sound checking Kanye’s moment for ‘Jesus Walks,’” Questlove said of the performance seen in Dave Chappelle’s Block Party.
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“Kanye was the only figure in that particular film that wasn’t in the original nucleus of the fable … and so even at soundcheck, he had such an energy about him, a new energy about him, that just brought the audience alive. And then as I was drumming, I was like, ‘Oh no.’ It was like a sixth sense moment. Like, ‘I’m dead!’ Like, ‘This is it for me. Like I’m no longer the spiritual epicenter of this clique. He’s about to be.”
When Kanye dropped his debut studio album The College Dropout in 2004, Questlove thought: “This is where I go to die.”
The whole thing taught Questlove to enjoy every small success in his career and knew things were looking up when he “got a new lease on life” by signing on to The Tonight Show.