Most people consider Questlove to be the heart and soul of The Roots, or at the very least the member with whom they can most easily associate (though this isn’t always the case). However, according to Search, there have been several occasions when this was not the case. In a new interview with Jemele Hill, the afroed drummer — who also dabbles in writing books and directing films — revealed that he has briefly left the band since recording all but two of their albums.
The first was their self-released Organix in 1993, which created enough buzz for them to sign to grunge label DGC for the release of their second album, Do You Want More?!!!??!, in 1995. Despite earning widespread praise, the album underperformed by the group’s expectations, leading Black Thought and the late Mailk B to search out new production styles for their third album, Illadelph Halflife, spawning an unofficial Roots Crew tradition of Questlove threatening to leave the band for a few weeks while recording all of their records.
Asked by Hill, “What’s the closest The Roots have come to breaking up?” Questlove bursts out laughing before explaining that the recording of their forthcoming album, Endgame, is the first time he’s broken his habit in a long time. “I hold the record for the longest [quitting streak]… It’s like the little boy who cried wolf after three records. ‘Yeah, he’ll be back next month,’ it’s like. ‘Don’t be concerned about him.’
“At the beginning of Illadelph Halflife,” he continues. “I was the last to know that Tariq and Malik desired to rhyme over a more traditional hip-hop backdrop. After a while, it was like, ‘Wait a minute, am I the bad guy here? Did I kill my own group?’… I took it mad personal.” He further explains how the rest of the band sprung “Clones” on him after a failed excursion to the Million Man March in Washington D.C., prompting Quest’s first walkout. However, he has always come back to help finish each project, and over time, The Roots have earned greater public appeal and a regular gig as the house band on The Tonight Show, so it’s probably better that he stuck around.