Skip Navigation

Questlove: "Hip-Hop is History"


When hip-hop first emerged in the 1970s, it wasn’t expected to become the cultural force it is today. But for a young Black kid growing up in a musical family in Philadelphia, it was everything. He stayed up late to hear the newest songs on the radio. He saved his money to buy vinyl as soon as it landed. He even started to try to make his own songs. That kid was Questlove, and decades later, he is a six-time Grammy Award–winning musician, an Academy Award–winning filmmaker, a New York Times bestselling author, a producer, an entrepreneur, a cofounder of one of hip-hop’s defining acts (the Roots), and the genre’s unofficial in-house historian.

In this landmark book, Hip-Hop Is History, Questlove skillfully traces the creative and cultural forces that made and shaped hip-hop, highlighting both the forgotten but influential gems and the undeniable chart-topping hits—and weaves it all together with the stories no one else knows. It is at once an intimate, sharply observed story of a cultural revolution and a sweeping, grand theory of the evolution of the great artistic movement of our time. And Questlove, of course, approaches it with not only the encyclopedic fluency and passion of an obsessive fan but also the expertise and originality of an innovative participant.

Hip-hop is history, and also his history.

About the Author: 

Academy Award-winning filmmaker, drummer, DJ, producer, director, culinary entrepreneur, New York Times best-selling author, and member of The Roots – Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, is the unmistakable heartbeat of Philadelphia’s most influential hip-hop group. He is the Musical Director for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where his beloved Roots crew serves as house band. Beyond that, this 6-time GRAMMY Award winning musician's indisputable reputation has landed him musical directing positions for everyone from D'Angelo to Jay-Z. Questlove made his directorial debut with the Academy Award winning feature documentary Summer of Soul. The movie broke the record for the highest-selling documentary to come out of Sundance, and it has since gone on to win “Best Feature Documentary” at the 2022 Academy Awards, “Best Documentary” at the 2022 British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) and “Best Music Film” at the 2022 Grammy Awards, as well as a Peabody Award. In addition, Summer of Soul was crowned the “Best Movie of 2021” by The New York Times and included among the “best of the year” by The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly, The Washington Post, TIME Magazine, The Hollywood Reporter, Rolling Stone and more. Outside of Summer of Soul, Questlove partnered together with Black Thought of The Roots to launch a production company, Two One Five Entertainment. Together, the pair announced a first-look deal with Universal Television to develop scripted and non-scripted programming. In 2022, the company executive produced the acclaimed feature documentary Descendant about the historic discovery of The Clotilda—the last known slave ship to arrive in America illegally transporting enslaved Africans. The documentary, which made its world premiere at Sundance in 2022, was acquired by Netflix and Higher Ground—President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s production company. The film earned an impressive three nominations for “Best Documentary Feature,” “Best Director,” and “Best Historical Documentary” and took home the award for “Best Historical Documentary” at the 2022 Critics Choice Documentary Awards. It also received a nomination for “Outstanding Documentary” for the 2023 NAACP Image Awards and was also named one of the “Top 5 Documentaries” of 2022 by the National Board of Review. Questlove’s web series, Quest for Craft, produced by Two One Five and launched in partnership with the single malt whiskey brand, The Balvenie, took home a Webby Award in 2023. Up next, Questlove will make his feature film directing debut with a live-action hybrid reimagining of The Aristocats for Walt Disney Studios. Two One Five is set to produce the film alongside Olive Bridge. Questlove has written multiple books, including the New York Times bestsellers Mo’ Meta Blues, Creative Quest, Music is History, and The Rhythm of Time, as well as the GRAMMY nominated audio books Music Is History and Creative Quest. Expanding his literary endeavors, in 2023 he launched his own book imprint, AUWA Books, within MCD Books, a publishing division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The imprint will publish both nonfiction and fiction on a wide range of topics.

About the Moderator: 

Karsonya Wise Whitehead is the host of Today with Dr. Kaye on WEAA 88.9 FM.   She is the founding director of The Karson Institute for Race, Peace & Social Justice, as well as a communication and African and African American Studies professor at Loyola University.    

Program Information: 

  • Doors will open to registered attendees at 2 pm. 
  • Seating for registered attendees in Central Hall is first come, first served. 
  • All registered in-person attendees will receive a free copy of the book. 
  • There will not be a book signing following the program. 
  • Free parking vouchers are available to program attendees who park at the Franklin Street Garage (15 W. Franklin Street) .  Ask Pratt event staff for your parking voucher prior to or after the program. 

Sunday, June 9 at 3:00pm to 4:00pm

Central Library, Central Hall
400 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

Event Type

Writers LIVE!

Age Group


Compass Category

Writers LIVE at the Library

Event Publisher

Cleve Corner, Manager of Speaker & Author Engagement

Digital Signage



tickets required

Google Calendar iCal Outlook

Recent Activity

You're not going yet!

This event requires registration.