Ahmir Questlove's Open Road

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The Roots

“I don't know if anyone who's truly successful feels a sense of completion. I think it's just a constant mission to stay ahead.”




Chance Dedication Doubt Fulfillment Goals Hard Work Passion Planning Pressure Success Focus


anxiety, chess, drumming, end result, Juilliard, longevity, making history, motivation, parents, practice, strategy, vision


Ahmir Questlove Thompson grew up with music. He started drumming when he was 2 and got his first drum set when he was 8. To become the musician his father wanted him to be, he practiced three to five hours a day. Although his father wanted him to be a top session musician, Questlove had plans of his own. Without telling his father, he and some friends formed The Roots, a hip-hop band that played on the streets of Philadelphia for donations. Around that time Questlove faced a crossroads: Unable to afford the prestigious Julliard School, where he had been accepted, he was free to travel with his band mates and to capitalize on the record deal that they landed. Now that The Roots have experienced longevity, he still takes nothing for granted. Wiser than when he first started out, he admits that the music industry has taught him to think like a chess player. "I've got to think 12 steps ahead," he says. "I think the true answer to life is proper planning."

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