*Ahmir Thompson, better known as the DJ and producer Questlove, takes Wall Street Journal inside his “post-pandemic mode,” and getting his health on the right track.
“It’s not lost to me that people in my field, especially in my occupation, tend to die at this age. I’ve had a scare or two where a heart tremor might have been the seed of a cardiac arrest or that sort of thing. I don’t want to be the next rapper to die of a stroke at 54, 55,” the tells the publication.
Earlier this month the musician dropped his directorial debut titled “Summer of Soul,’ which is now streaming on Hulu. The project, per press release, is a transcendent music documentary and cultural artifact with never-before-seen concert performances by Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly & the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King, The 5th Dimension and more.
Check out the trailer below and excerpts from Questlove’s WSJ interview.
On when he wakes up and the first thing he does:
OK, so full disclosure: I’m answering this in post-pandemic mode. The Questlove that the world once knew, all knew that I might go to bed at 7 in the morning and that sort of thing. So post-pandemic Questlove is starting off his day after having slept 8 to 12 hours. This week is an exception because I’m doing a press run, so it’s kind of weird living the old traces of me.
My eyes probably open at 7:30 in the morning. In the pandemic, I discovered [neuroscientist and author] Joe Dispenza, and he sort of introduced the power of meditation to me and why it’s important to start off my morning meditating. [After] I wake up, there’s sort of a two-hour exercise process that I do—I can’t believe I’m about to be so transparent and honest with The Wall Street Journal—the first thing I do is my deep breathing for about a good 15 minutes. Then I will start my gratitude…. I usually do a gratitude list every Sunday where I list the 15 things I’m grateful for, or that I want to achieve in my life. So I might look at that list and sit in that gratitude.
In the last three weeks, I’ve had to do something that’s really uncomfortable: I then have to go to my bathroom mirror and talk to myself for about 20 minutes. The object is to be nice to myself because oftentimes I’m very self-critical and I know that the voice in my head is a really mean voice. I say things to myself that I would never allow anyone else to say to me. If you were to tell me, You’re going to fail at this movie, I’d be mad as s—. Whereas I say to myself, Aw, man, this movie’s going to be a disaster. So I have to undo that process and talk to myself for about 20 minutes, which is a very hard thing to do, but if anything, I’m very committed and very disciplined.
On whether it’s working:
It’s absolutely working. My girlfriend, she starts her day with Bob Roth. Bob Roth has been doing these morning TM [transcendental mediation] meditations at 6 a.m. on Zoom, so she gets up at 4 in the morning, she does her whole other routine. One day, I’ll be on that level, but I can’t be in the industry and get rest at the same time, so we’re on different levels.
A lot of my work that I’ve done in that last year is sort of, flight-or-fight mode of ensuring my survival, ensuring my success, ensuring my abundance. The one thing I’ve kind of neglected without knowing it is ensuring the love part: being nice to myself and learning forgiveness and that sort of thing.
On his go-to breakfast to start the week off right:
For a foodie who’s written two books and really abused his relationship with food for the last 50 years, I’m just getting my health back to a place where it’s going to ensure that I can live to 90. It’s not lost to me that people in my field, especially in my occupation, tend to die at this age. I’ve had a scare or two where a heart tremor might have been the seed of a cardiac arrest or that sort of thing. I don’t want to be the next rapper to die of a stroke at 54, 55.
I’m world famous for kinda hating salads, so my nutritionist has figured out a way for me to have my salads without me having a salad. [Holding up glass bottles] I start off my mornings with this charcoal water—this is turmeric root, collard greens, celery, chili pepper and lime with a tinge of lemon in it. So I’ll consume about seven of these bottles of various things. For lunch, I’m going to have “tomato.” So I usually start the morning off with my juices and my waters. I’m still not a fan of dandelion. Really strong. When I started this process in late 2018, I was at about 415 [pounds]. Right now, I’m at 301. I want to get to 220, so the hardest push is the last 60 pounds or whatever. Clothes are starting to fit now, you’re starting to feel yourself; you’re like, I’m in Philadelphia, I can have this cheesesteak. I tend to be that person, so I’m trying to really, really hammer through and see this part through.
On a time of the day or week when he’s most creative:
The thing is, I let Quincy Jones get in my head. He once planted a seed that I started applying to myself. In the real world, if I’m producing a song, usually you get people to come by the studio around 2 in the afternoon. You want them relaxed, into their day. Quincy does the opposite, Quincy taught me a trick where he doesn’t even start recording his musicians until 1 in the morning. And even then, he has them come to the studio at 9 p.m. The first thing he does is he feeds them. Red wine, drink it. Food, eat it. You want to take a nap, take a nap. And then at 1 in the morning, he wakes them up. His logic was that he hates when his musicians overthink, or when musicians want to impress Quincy Jones by doing the most fancy stuff. And all he wants is what’s called for in the song. So at 1 in the morning, 2 in the morning, when you’re asleep, you might not challenge him.
So I used to be like that. But now I’m realizing that when I first wake up in the morning, that’s when ideas come to me. Usually I’m writing down whatever my dream was, however silly it was, thoughts in my head, I’ll document everything. Usually that turns into a song or something creative down the line. You know who does that, I didn’t even know? Black Thought, my partner in the Roots. He wakes up at 4 in the morning every day and sits in silence until 7 a.m. before he goes to work, before he takes his kids to school, because he says that’s when his vocabulary comes alive.
Read the full article here.