The Roots' ?uestlove Says The Early Buzz From "UnDun" Is "Monumental"
Exclusive: ?uestlove told HipHopDX that some of The Roots' toughest critics are listening with their jaws dropped. He also explains if a studio ownership change will relocate Philly's favorites.
Last week, HipHopDX spoke with The Roots' ?uestlove. In addition to speaking about the group's new musical role in Captain Morgan's Live Love Loot campaign, the drummer/producer/deejay spoke about the group's forthcoming thirteenth album, UnDun as well as recent developments regarding their longtime Philadelphia, Pennsylvania studio.
Last month, FlyingKiteMedia reported that The Studio (f/k/a Larry Gold Studios) is expected to sell to coffeehouse franchise and record label, Milkboy. ?uestlove revealed whether or not a change of ownership would change The Roots' home, and a city mainstay also used by the likes of Talib Kweli, Kanye West, Freeway and Dice Raw.
?uestlove also claimed that UnDun is already turning around critics and publications that have been historically hard on the crew, and he even alludes that it may be regarded as his best work.
HipHopDX: I had read in the newspapers that The Studio may change ownership. I know it's not finalized, but if Milkboy purchases the studios from Larry Gold, how will that effect you and The Roots?
?uestlove: We definitely have a lot of memories of The Studio. It was not your average studio. If anything, it was more like a loft - a place where you actually lived. If Larry [Gold] decides to actually sell it, I'll be extremely sad to see it go. I'm still keeping my facilities there. I don't want to totally feel like I've moved to New York City, even though I stay here during the week. My haven is there: my 70,000 records are there, all my vintage [drum] sets, my museum is inside the studio. I'm sure we'll make nice with whoever decides to pick it up, and I hope they welcome that community feeling that's always been there in the past.
The cool thing about The Studio was that it had windows. That's why we made it our home. That was first and foremost. Most studios are closed in and sound-proof and you don't get to see the outside world. Often you'll come in [during] the afternoon and you're leaving and the sun's just comin' up at six in the mornin'; it's an odd feeling. The thing that made this studio unique is we have windows; I love tracking my drums while seeing the city skyline. As a matter of fact, the same [view of the skyline] that you see on my Philadelphia Experiment album is pretty much the same view that I can see from my drum set. I have a lot of attachment to that studio. Yeah, it might change owners. Larry's had his run. He wants to retire and not have to worry about business stress and all that stuff, but yeah, [The Roots] will still make that our home.
DX: "Make My" with Big K.R.I.T is one of my personal favorite records to come through this year. Wow, did I not see this collaboration coming --
?uestlove: No one knows what they're about to get. We literally finished at 4:23 am this morning (October 26). I'm talkin' so groggy, I've got a headache. To survive this day...these are my favorite days, ever! The 11 hours after I know that record's being pressed up right now... I was not expecting the overwhelming response. Writers that we've been frightened of in the past [are] doing total 180s. I know it seems impossible. When people heard How I Got Over, they were like, "I'm afraid to say it, but I think I like this record better than..." Things Fall Apart is always that shadow to beat. This, in my opinion...I'll put it this way: How I Got Over was massively praised and massively acclaimed, but I have to take [partial] responsibility for manipulating the emotions of people for How I Got Over. I knew that going into the [Late Night With Jimmy Fallon] gig that a lot of people would underestimate our passion for making records. The perception was, "Oh, they do late-night television now, so their record's going to be wack." So having that lowered expectation made it that much easier to knock people out once they heard the record. "Oh my God, it's not wack!" That was the praise of How I Got Over: "Oh man, they didn't fall off." [UnDun] however, I always feared. I never feared the last record 'cause I knew I could get off on the sheer fumes of underestimation. This album, UnDun, however...I'm getting worried already. There's talk that Rolling Stone might want to make it the lead review. Pitchfork writers are actually excited about it. General people that I know that have been very lukewarm and snarky of us in the past have now...they've left the studio with their jaws dropped. "Wait, we were never expecting this." To be honest with you, I wasn't expecting it either. It wasn't that I said, "Okay, I'm gonna plan the best record of my career." The only difference is I didn't do any bragging, blogging or talking or tweeting about this record; I just did it. And I've just nervously awaited the results. Already, the buzz is monumental.