Shit Bougie Black People Love: 22. Questlove » VSB

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Shit Bougie Black People Love: 22. Questlove

Questlove (Steven Henry/Getty Images)


If you ever wanted to get a Bougie Black Person’s attention and you weren’t sure how, a surefire way would be to mention the snarky “Death Rides A Pale Horse” cover The Roots did on Fallon the night before. If you want that Bougie Black Person to smile, mention that time you saw The Roots live at SXSW a couple years ago. If you want to impress them, mention that the concert was free. And, if you want them to want to be your friend, mention that time you ran into Questlove in a mall elevator in Coral Gables.

Although Bougie Black People love The Roots, this love pales in comparison to the adoration they feel for Questlove, who’s joined 2008 Obama, 1959 Sidney Poiter, and 1852 Frederick Douglass as the only men to have a 100% Bougie Black approval rating.

To understand why Bougie Black People love Questlove so is to understand Bougie Black People.

1. He’s associated with hip-hop but he doesn’t actually rap

Bougie Black People are preternaturally obsessed with famous rappers who make rap songs but don’t rap anymore. This shows the artist is “evolving” and “changing” — concepts Bougie Black People love because they too feel like they’re “evolving” and “changing.” Into what? Something, perhaps. Naturally, they’d feel a connection to a hip-hop artist who began his career already evolved past the point of rapping.

2. He writes thinkpieces

While their jobs as “Regional Federal Diversity Initiatives Operatives Assistant Co-Manager” and “Urban Beekeeper” don’t always allow them to show off their intellectual chops, the thinkpiece gives them that opportunity, either by asking their friend at The Root to allow them to write a 900 word juxtaposition of Ray Rice and George Costanza or reposting an already published thinkpiece on their Facebook walls, under the caption “Exactly!”

Questlove’s intellectual chops were already cemented when naming an album after a book (Things Fall Apart) every Bougie Black Person pretends to have read. So his occasional thinkpiece writing is purely a labor of love that all Bougie Black People can appreciate, like mentorship or recycling or dating a Zeta.

3. He’s more popular now than he was 10 years ago

Something every Bougie Black man can relate to, since every Bougie Black Man has never been more popular in his whole entire life than he is right now.

4. He knows Angela Nissel

Which matters because The Broke Diaries is the post-grad Bougie Black girl’s Bible.

5. He looks like he knows where to find the best Thai restaurants in every Mid-Atlantic city

Which matters. Just because.

6. He has an awesome beard

There are two types of Bougie Black men: Those with awesome beards, and those who hop from barber to barber looking for one who might be able to trick people into thinking he has an awesome beard. Naturally, you’d think this would inspire a bit of beard envy-fueled hate towards Questlove, but the love for Questlove is so deep that his beard has become a signpost, an aspiration.

So if you did really happen to run into Questlove in a mall elevator in Coral Gables, make sure not to forget that story. You might need to get into a Day Party one day, and having a Bougie Black friend will surely help.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at Or don't. Whatever.

  • miss t-lee

    Seen em five times. Never at South By #doe. ????

    • Seen them four at the House of Blues (The best appearance included Jeff Bradshaw sitting in on with the horns.) I will see them again.

      • miss t-lee


    • Damon Young

      i did happen to see them there, and questlove actually wasn’t there

      • miss t-lee

        I never go to the big shows during SXSW, I try to catch the smaller showcases.
        I’m old, and my patience is thin for drunk hipsters.

  • NomadaNare

    Who doesn’t love ?love?

    • ?uestlove and the Roots are fine. I am tempted to round up their fan base, most of which are rock fans who are too good for hip-hop and only respect them for their “real musicianship” (aka they aren’t n*gg*rs with turntables and a microphone who dare to reject the Blessed Rock Paradigm as interpreted by Elvis and The Beatles), and stick them in re-education camps. While there, they’d be forced to listen to bad Southern hip-hop and Miami bass until they repent for their sins.

      • CamCamtheGreat

        You know their fan base is MUCH bigger than that, right? I mean, you obviously have to, but I just need to make sure.

        • Yes, I do. I just don’t feel like dealing with the rest of them.

      • This camp sounds rather nice.

    • h.h.h.

      Who doesn’t love ?love?

      young berg > ¿love

    • LadyIbaka

      me. I don’t care for him. and his beard is not great.

  • You forgot to mention his political work with stuff like occupy. Moreover ?uestlove embodies contemporary Black cool without seeming the least bit threatening to other black people. Not to mention he’s in hip hop, but he’s also a real musician.

    • Motherf*ck Occupy. They’d restart a socialist Republic, where anyone non-sufficiently bougie (e.g. me) would be forced into re-education camps where I’d be forced to declare my love of locally sourced produce and rock music. Besides, capitalism has been better to me than the alternative. :)

      • You never lived under socialism Todd

        • You’re correct. Let me restate more accurately that people motivated by capitalistic tendencies have treated me better than people who were motivated by the social good.

          • bruh, people treated you better because a hard fought civil rights movement forced them to treat you better. tell me how awesome these American capitalists are in any year prior to 1964. i mean, we can barely say that today even with civil rights laws.

        • Rachmo

          This rebuttal cracked me up for some reason. Also yeah life in a socialist country low key rocks but zzzzzz.

          • But they pay the scientists in hugs. I’ve checked the receipts. Under socialism, my child would be straight yoinked from me, and I would be thrown in jail for listening to counter revolutionary music and not having $ex in traditional ways. Socialist countries are little more than velvet cages, where all is taken care of so long as you let your neighbors control your every thought and hobby. I will not be controlled by the government.

            • Rachmo

              Yeah I can tell you’ve definitely never lived in a country with a socialist lean. Have you ever been to Canada, Denmark, or Sweden? Denmark is one of the most socialist countries in the Western Hemisphere. You can pretty much do what you want. Drink beer outside at 10 AM on a Tuesday, get free education, get treatment at a hospital with dicey citizenship, and take off weeks of vacation. It is the most lackadaisical culture I’ve ever seen.

              • Don’t get it twisted. I know of the benefits offered. Heck I even know the governments in Scandinavia have lovely parks, copious benefits and community centers of the Gods. I’ll give them up to make my own way thanks. Plus they say a lot of mean things to people who dare to do anything outside of the cultural norm. I’d rather have a crappy Park and pay for school if it means the freedom to live how I wish.

                • Rachmo

                  Wait what? Do you know anyone from Scandinavia? Other than being anti-Muslim, sticklers for adhering to traffic laws, and hating conversation on the trains, Danes are pretty lowkey about life choices. You want to have five children and never get married? No judgment here. You’re having drunk chex in a public place? That’s totally okey dokey. Sitting in the middle of a busy train station doing heroin at 7 AM (true story)? Well that’s a bit much but let’s turn a blind eye and keep it pushing.

                  A Dane was super confused that I thought it was a big deal when I was approached to do nude photography by a stranger. So where are you getting this comment from? I’m not even trying to stan out here, it’s just everything you are saying is the exact opposite of living in that country.

                  • My first boss fresh out of Rutgers was from Denmark and regaled me with tales about life there. She was also as racist as a country hick from Mississippi. And being anti Muslim is enough of a problem for me thanks. Accepting everyone means just that. No shortcuts.

                    • Rachmo

                      Well…America doesn’t really accept everyone either. No country does. Idk maybe Denmark was different than when your first boss lived there but from living there everything you said was pretty off. I’d go see it for yourself or speak with more people before going off this person’s opinion.

                    • Well, you’re right no country accepts everyone. That’s why, in the words of Nas, I’m out for dead f*cking presidents to represent me. It’s amazing how a stack of Federal Reserve Notes (or electronic entries in checking accounts representing thereof) can smooth over relations.

                    • Rachmo

                      I’d agree that everyone has something that can soothe their irritation.

                  • menajeanmaehightower

                    Speaking about marriage, the US loves marriage. Other western countries, not as much. People do tend to have families without the title.

                    • Rachmo

                      As an adamant marriage lover that it SO BLEW MY MIND! However, it forced me to respect another way of living.

                • *looks at Ferguson turning into a police state* yes. All those capitalist freedoms.

                  • I didn’t say America was capitalist. Don’t get it twisted. Some of the biggest commies in America work on Wall Street.

                    • There are zero communists at wall street. Rich protecting rich at the expense of everyone else is how capitalism functions. Those that have the money make the decisions for all our lives.

                    • No, that’s how socialism actually works. Congress has decided repeatedly to throw tax dollars propping up failed Wall Street firms for the greater good. That was a dumb a$$ decision. I don’t care if crashing Wall Street firms would have resulted in bread lines. In a free market, companies pay the price for their mistakes, not get bailed out while making sure to hide their copies of Das Kapital from public view and claiming the capitalist mantle.

                • dantes342

                  You don’t know what you’re taking about. Period.

            • menajeanmaehightower

              You sure you’re not thinking about communism?

              • A distinction without a difference in my opinion. It all leads to the same place. It’s just that socialists just haven’t pulled the trigger yet.

                • menajeanmaehightower

                  The history major in me begs to differ but i’m not in the mood today. How’ve you been Tood?

                  • I’m doing alright. I’m apparently having one of those days where I spit pure ether in the comments. That must mean my mind has recovered from the past month. Yay rest! :)

    • panamajackson

      Interestingly enough, the worst DJ set I’ve ever witnessed with my own two eyes and ears was performed by ?uestlove in DC. He’s more of an educational DJ than a party-starter DJ anyway, but this night, he was especially horrible. People walked clean out wondering why the hell he followed up “I Wanna Rock” with “Come On Eileen” seemingly, all night long. Weirdest set ever.

      • miss t-lee

        This sounds horrendous.

  • 1. He’s associated with hip-hop but he doesn’t actually rap

    Bougie Black People are preternaturally obsessed with famous rappers
    who make rap songs but don’t rap anymore. This shows the artist is
    “evolving” and “changing” — concepts Bougie Black People love because
    they too feel like they’re “evolving” and “changing.” Into what?
    Something, perhaps. Naturally, they’d feel a connection to a hip-hop
    artist who began his career already evolved past the point of rapping.

    In other words, self-hatred with a side of elitism. Lovely.

    This is a major pet peeve of mine, because I was harassed for this all through my high school and college years. How dare someone imply that because I can read well assume that I want to get “beyond” hip-hop. Last I checked, my intelligence doesn’t mean I have to sign up for the hegemony of Rock music. I prefer my creative thoughts from my own community and not ripped off to avoid the ennui of living in covenant housing in the suburbs, thanks.

    I don’t care how well read I am, no matter how I explore and travel the world, no matter how deep into the sciences I go, I’m repping hip-hop until the bitter end. Evolve deez nutz in your mouth. I live for hip-hop. This is where I stay. I hated it when my guidance counselor suggested that I was “too smart” to be listening to “that crap”, and I will hate it when some locally-sourced hipster from some Ohio suburb who gentrified my hometown tries to suggest the same thing. You don’t have to like it, of course, but if you try to change my tastes, you might get that jaw tapped. Understood?

    • Meridian

      lol. Are you being sarcastic or are you humble bragging? Cuz, I’m pretty sure he meant Questlove has grown as a person and in his craft and no longer raps. That doesn’t automatically imply he’s “too smart for hip hop”, especially seeing as how his life is still vested in it. It just means he grew into a focus on other aspects of his craft.


      • Neither. I’m just speaking raw facts. My point is that you can’t be too smart for hip-hop, and “musical growth” from a hip-hop artist can be a loaded term.

        • Meridian

          I see. When I hear that I always think about how people like Diddy or Dr. Dre don’t really rap anymore but they’re still associated with hip hop. I think there’s legitimacy to it when people reference the growth and it’s a good thing.

          • I see your point, but I’ve seen “musical growth” used with hip-hop artists as code for someone being more rock-like. That’s what makes me nervous about the term. The point of being into hip-hop isn’t to become a rocker.

            • Meridian

              Ooh, you mean it being used as a term to reference outgrowing hip hop into other genres. It’s pretty interesting how differently we interpreted that reference lol.

  • Also the name Questlove sounds like he could be a spoken word performer or a guitarist at Woodstock

    • Damon Young

      or a bong shop on venice beach

    • Jay

      Or a dating site for geeks

  • Rachmo

    Questlove’s Celebrity Stories really solidified the love for me. He is hilarious. Also he went to prom with Amel Larrieux. That is an overwhelming amount of bougie neosoul/cool awesomeness right there.

    • panamajackson

      ?uesto has THE best celeb stories. He’s literally run into or met everybody. I can’t remember his blog from years ago where he broke down each celeb story. The Will Smith one was great.

      • Rachmo
        • Jay

          Bad enough that VSB is posting 4 pieces a day… now you go and post this link. I’ll never get anything accomplished ever again.

          • Rachmo

            I read this as “Thank you My Queen”. You’re welcome.

      • MsSula

        My favorite remains his meeting Erykah Badu! Hilarious!

        Edit: I just read it again. “Enter Andre. Enter Hate”. Yup, I love me some ?Love! :)

        • Rachmo

          That one was hilairous

    • Damon Young

      Also he went to prom with Amel Larrieux.

      I did not know that. If I knew Questlove in high school, this would have made me hate him

    • LadyIbaka

      Rach!! I don’t know whether I’ve told you before, girl that avi is BOMB!! YAAAAZ.

      • Rachmo

        Thanks AM!!!

  • The Roots are in my top three favorite bands but other than his book, which was dope, I don’t pay Questlove much attention. Always seemed like a good dud though.

    • He seems to be the face of the band to people who don’t actually listen to them

      • panamajackson

        I don’t know, even if you’re a huge Roots fan, he’s still likely the face. Sure we all love Black Thought, but he barely speaks in interviews. ?uest is the more outspoken one. Obviously, there are no Roots crew without Black Thought and ?uest, but I do think ?uest is the face of the band.

        • CamCamtheGreat


        • miss t-lee

          And it seems like the rest of the group is fine with that…lol

          • It works for them, Black Thought is one of the most talented men on the planet and hes just chill about it

            • miss t-lee

              Saw a piece about him on CBS Sunday Morning last week.
              He’s incredibly chill.

            • Black Thought may be my favorite mc.

              • Rachmo

                “Boom” is one of my favorite songs for this reason.

            • BRUH. I’ve seen Thought live several times, and dude’s underrated. And as for Questlove…he helped make Voodoo.

          • panamajackson

            I think that’s cuz really, everybody else is rotational. ?uest and Black Thought might legit be the only two actual members of The Roots, kind of like Speech and Headliner with Arrested Development despite having no less than 100 people present at all times.

            • miss t-lee

              True. They have had folks flow in and out throughout the years.

              • Kamal has been there for a minute too.

                • miss t-lee

                  You’re right!

  • I cant lie, I LOVE questlove. He wrote that manifesto about going to Will Smith’s house a couple years ago ( that had me in tears. Who DOESNT want to hang out with him?

    • panamajackson

      Thank you for linking that. So hilarious.

  • Freebird

    i’m not sure im bougie, but i paid a lot of money to watch this dude dj one night. no one really danced….just watched. and i never questioned it until today. thanks champ.

    • Damon Young

      you’re welcome

  • Wild Cougar

    Sooo…..I guess the enraptured navel gazing is gonna be full time. Ok. sigh……

    • Damon Young

      yup. this is a 100-part series

      • miss t-lee


      • #TrappedintheBougie

    • Rachmo

      What do you mean by “enraptured navel gazing?” No sarcasm I just haven’t heard this phrase.

      • It basically means reading too much into something or self for that matter

        • Rachmo

          Ooooooooh okay. Got it thanks.

        • Wild Cougar

          I’m talking about the series of blog posts where we want everyone to share in our infatuation and fascination with the most mundane aspects of our lives. I’ll play along, but I’m gonna be stifling a number of yawns and eye rolls. Hey, its not easy coming up with blog topics, why not write one on the interesting color the lint in your navel has taken? Could it be denim dye? The world awaits an answer. And a definitive 10 part list.

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