Questlove talks about his age, Good Charlotte, and hip-hop on Broadway

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First Posted: 5/23/2014

“Late Night” and “The Tonight Show” have elevated The Roots to a whole new level of fame, but the Philadelphia-born band has been around since 1987. Its influence reaches far beyond television. Look no further than… well, Joel and Benji Madden, the twin brothers that comprised a very popular pop rock band from Baltimore.

“We did a show once in D.C., and the cats from Good Charlotte told me the same thing, and I couldn’t believe it,” Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson told me on the red carpet of the Tony Awards earlier this month. I had just informed him that the band’s 1995 release “Do You Want More?!!!??!” inspired my camera man, Dan Mulqueen, to play drums and join a band.

“They’re like, ‘Yo dude, we saw you at the 9:30 Club and then we went home and were like, ‘Yo, let’s start a band,’’” Quest continued. “I’m like, ‘Wait, you’re trying to tell me that you guys weren’t a band before seeing The Roots and you saw The Roots one night and then you decided, ‘We’re gonna start a band called Good Charlotte.’’”

The Madden Brothers (a name which they now record under as a pop rock duo) confirmed this again to the drummer. While he has a hard time believing it, Quest thinks it’s both cool but a bit weird.

“Hip-hop is leery to celebrate age,” he explained. “Hip-hop is like the only culture in which it’s youth-obsessed.”

Jay Z is changing this in my opinion, and Quest agreed but noted he is accomplishing this by staying relevant. You could make a similar argument for Thompson, but he believes that in addition to wearing his age (43) proudly, it is his expansion outside of the genre that has afforded him the opportunity to become an elder statesman of sorts that is not looked at necessarily as elder.

“I’m working on three plays right now that will probably wind up on Broadway in 2016,” he revealed. “It’s hip-hop’s turn.”

Quest told the story of how he even ended up at the Tonys: a few weeks prior, award show host Hugh Jackman was on “The Tonight Show.” He pitched Quest on the idea that “The Music Man” was actually a hip-hop play. The musician bought into it and agreed to help produce the rap that Jackman did during the show alongside LL Cool J and T.I.

It is one of Questlove’s many skills that has come to light since Jimmy Fallon’s rise up the rankings of late night TV. And it is a ride that The Roots seem to be enjoying quite a bit.

“This is the coolest job ever,” he said simply of his position with “The Tonight Show.” “We’re a bunch of 14-year-olds in the bodies of 40-year-olds.”

But it seems now that “youth-obsessed” culture is simply looking at that age as just a number.

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