Music Is History

  • Type: Books
  • By: Questlove
  • Age Category: Adults
  • Genre: Non-Fiction
  • Recommended by: Kat W.
  • ISBN/UPC: 9781419751431
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This (re)presentation of the past connects to us now, not in a loop but a rubber-band ball of records.

I sat down with this book in one hand and a notebook and pencil in the other, like the good music history student that I was trained to be (thanks Dr. Girdham). I read it slowly over the course of a few weeks, listening a lot along the way, and it turned into a kind of self-lead expansion of my music education. Every chapter gave me more to think about, and more music to love. Questlove moves through history in the context of music, music in the context of history, focusing on his areas of expertise-- and you can tell his life has been spent soaking up these particular aspects of popular (and sometimes not so popular) culture. His use of language made it less like a textbook and more like a conversation, one which ends in a sort of mixtape/playlist, a heap of songs personally recommended by the author. As a listener and learner, even as a musician, we don't often get art history woven in so intricately with what was actually happening at the time. Questlove made it feel intuitive and current. I recommend Music Is History to readers who enjoy funk or hip-hop or both, and want a solid historical background for the genres, or anyone interested in making connections between Black music in popular culture over time and its context in American history. Get your notebook and pencil out, and your headphones, too.