Questlove has been recently on hypnagogics where peeps have the opportunity to ask him about some funny celebrity stories he could tell us, so you can read a bunch of interesting celebrity stories by Questlove such as the Chad Hugo & Pharrell Williams stories at hypnagogics.com/questo.
Questlove’s Babyface Story
In response to a ‘Babyface’ story, Questlove revealed that Babyface’s There She Goes has already been made back in 1998 but its been released three years later in 2001 on Babyface’s Face2Face album. “he did play me a demo of “there she goes” that he did with the tunes.”
Babyface – There She Goes feat. Pharrell
Questlove’s Chad Hugo Story
“the roots come to va to get two joints from the tunes. we actually work on the beat that is Beyonce’s “Green Light”. chad is next door working on what will soon be “Ride Around Shinnin’‘” with the Clipse. i tell (Phar)rell “i want a jawn with some crazy jeru noise shit like THAT shit” (the song has an open piano swirl)— so chad hears the shit we working on and then he gets an idea… grabs his horn….and he does the same 4 horn squeals that tribe did on the “can i kick it remix”…. perfectly! he invited me to the room while riq wrote to the beat–played me new N*E*R*D and Clipse and Kenna shit. i wound up drumming on 3 joints. he was amazed i did them shits for free.”
A Tribe Called Quest – Can I Kick It (Remix)
Questlove’s Pharrell Williams Story
Here is the Pharrell story which is very long.
“i got 3 great stories. 2 are short and one is crazy funny long. so movie style again. preview one P is actually one of the most nicest cats i know in the industry. we had a day off on the sprite tour and he wanted to hang in philly. my apprehension was im …..normal…. i mean that works for you guys and i have no shame but its a lil different parking your dingy scion next to hov’s Bach at a high end event…..i mean i hold my head high and im sure that the particular pride i have in my regularness is what makes me endearing. but sometimes i cringe kinda like when people apologize ahead of time before i sit in their car like all im accustomed to is caviar and 400,000 cars. well (Phar)rell wanted to see Kill Bill 2 and i told him id pick him up around 7ish…..and then i remembered what im picking him up in…..my sisters volkswagen.
i was naturally about to apologize for it but caught myself and he got in like it was no thing. the look on girls faces at the red light was priceless….like “what in the blue fuck?” the second story would be hilarious if it weren’t at the expense of a close friend. so let’s just say i know one of the women that inspired the NERD song “yeah you”(i introduced em and im so regretting it cause so many lines were crossed) but this is what i can say about rell’s character. that cat is in loooooooooooove with music. like i “think” im in love with music–but he is a cat that calls you at 3 am wanting to talk about gary bartz and shit. i mean me and james never did that….but then again d and i will talk from midnight and compare our notes to the Purple Rain atl show 1 to show 2 til like 6am….
i guess more than anything he wears his love for music on his sleeve in a sweet way and there is no bone in his body that leads you to believe he doesn’t think of “the moment” than “this shit is gonna make me money!!” first. the 3rd story and main event: The Roots get a neptreat for the upcoming Tipping Point. so its new years eve eve (30th) and me and my ex and her bff are having ice cream in georgetown and we got 2 NYE shows at the 930. (Phar)rell calls me and says “hey teacher….(that shit makes me feel old yo) i got the answer i got it!!! can you get down here tomorrow?…” we basically have been on standby with Pharrell kinda like waiting for the labor part of birth to get over its slow process. and any moment you can get that call “come to the hosptial!!! she’s about to give birth!!!!”
—-so we spent that whole week knowing the most in demand producer was on the verge of taking time out his schedule to lace us with a joint. and if he comes a callin……we best to make sure we drop WHATEVER we doing and get to va in the next 4 hours—-kinda like how the fat albert gang would abandon whatever they were doing at 2:59 to rush and see THE BROWN HORNET. i just begged rell to please at LEAST give us a 12 hour warning and whatnot. so i got the call and he told me he is an early man and he has plans for NYE but his respect for us is deep enough that he can go to church a lil late on NYE to record this jam with us. im like cool! we will be there 10am on the NOSE!!! i did the universal page and all The Roots were alerted and it was on…we were leaving to VA at 7am so everyone be prepared! he calls me again wanting to talk chords again (it was like 1:30am now—he starts the genisis of the chords that will eventually be Beyonce’s “Green Light” chorus (that marching band /ante up chords)—
so i was cool cause in my head i knew id turn it into a banger. so we get to his spot in va. very modest spot. It was Teddy Riley’s former place back in the Rump Shaker/Dangerous days (90)—he plays us 3 ruff demos. now i ALREADY got locked what i hear in my head. (Phar)rell got a few “trademark beats”
1. his clavinet funk of the N.O.R.E./Superthug/first Kelis variety from when he first came out.
2. his “boogie” funk in which the music makes you wanna go the busstop on some family reunion type shit like the music to ODB’s “Got Your Money” or Justin‘s “Rock Your Body” and then there is my favorite rell grove:
3. its where the bongo’s from James Brown’s “Blow Your Head” pattern comes in. it when the drums are rimshot funk. its heavy on the ONE like a dropping a grand piano coming from the sky
James Brown – Blow Your Head
rhythmic wise? its like Busta‘s “What It Is” but done with live drums like “Señorita” or best done on HOV’s “Scuse Me Miss Remix”. actually i approximated it when i remixed “That Girl” for his Out Of My Mind sessions. i wanted it 96 bpms. i wanted it hi hat, rim shot, kick and a lil of that (Phar)rell bongo roll that makes it soulful i wanted the fender Rhodes i wanted something that even I WOULD DJ and yall KNOW how much i hate playing The Roots. none of these beats sounded like that. cause (Phar)rell aint thinking about “do most my requests come from cats who hear another song i did and want something similar?” he is thinking from a standpoint of “where does he see this naturally?”
i mean i agree: “Grindin’” is a great song but if he gave that beat to Mariah first and gave the Clipse “Say Something” then that woulda been a bad look. so the first joint was neptunish sounding kinda similar to “Lapdance” but it REALLY sounded like The Neptunes and not The Roots…..so we passed. but it had a killer chorus. the second joint was aight but it wasn’t BANGER!!!! it was a song kinda like “bobby james”—woulda made great filler but at these prices (and we got a discount) we wanted BANGER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! third joint was banger but the drums man weren’t the pattern i wanted to do. i wanted rim shot funk and he wanted me to play something in the 88 bpm slow “Freddy’s Dead” style and my gut was like “ugh this aint it!”
Curtis Mayfield – Freddie’s Dead
but because we aint paying him his “this is the god Pharrell” price its a tricky thing to be demanding on a favor. so we got til 7pm to think of something…..but who got the heart to bring it up? riq is standoffish. rich scares niggas mal keeps learning out loud the song i hate and i wanna be like “mofo shut the eff up and lets get a song we ALL like!!!” (his myspace photo with him and rell at piano is this time period)
so i got 6 hours to pull some slick shit and get the song i need. i tell em “go back on the bus and leave me and rell alone for a few and ill come up with something. of course to break the ice on some favor shit this is when i drummed on some N*E*R*D stuff and Kenna shit.—so that alone took 4 hours and im telling my panicking crew i HAD to do that to even the playing field so i can request a groove that kicks ASS!!! so with 2 hours left and rich and riq putting pressure on me i go in. “well….i feel the energy and chorus of the first jawn….but um….that second one is aight—i like the marching bandness of the 3rd bu—- “teacher teacher do you trust me? i know you saying what you think you need but i KNOW what yall need!!”
great he is about to pull a com (Family Guy flashback edit) electric lady studios, 2001 4 very nervous mca staffers and manager Derek Dudley about to have a heart attack over the beat pharrell is about to FORCE on Common (“I Got A Right Ta“) i was at dinner with my dream woman and these mofos bat signaled me on some 911 shit like “please save the day”—actually this helped me seal the deal that night cause this chick wasn’t all to familiar with my life (she was from brazil) so she really thought i was a dj more than anything—so to just randomly be like “ugh that is the job” and on some save the day shit just “help some friends out” and she roll with me and its like clark kent taking off his gear on some “HA HA! GOTCHA! IM REALLY…..(pulls mask off shit)” only to roll to a building and just CASUALLY see The Neptunes and com??!?! sheeeit i was like “uh check please!” what did i walk into?
(Phar)rell and his boy going APESHIT over this beat that i swear wasn’t all that (love you rell but i hate the stigma i got for the weaker moments of EC ESPECIALLY since this was one of em) but (Phar)rell is mr “cant tell me nada” og when you get the discount. so i realized that whenever the established frat click comes down to help us havenots they are basically doing it to up their cred game and more or less not doing it thinking this will rank up there with the classics they’ve made for the established cats. that way the range of doing shit for HOV, Busta and Madonna is balanced by Common, Kweli and Cee Lo but he is doing this hypnotizing dance and performing the song for rash and gassing us ALL up on some “trust me i have never been wrong shit the streets will love this as well as the college chicks cause the chords scream roadside truck stop tumbleweed meets the ghetto shit meets……”
his voice was fading out and i knew this was a losing battle i was like “poor (Phar)rell …..he thinks his persona and his style and him being smedium and trucker hats and being in everyone’s video and most chicks wanting to fuck him and dudes look like him has 0 to do with his success and its all about the music” naive. cute disposition. but naive. rash was soooooo stuck with this song. even when (Phar)rell gave us “Come Close” in addition he insisted rash record it. even we said “rash dont smoke!!!!!” he insisted!!!! im like this is like making a gospel singer sing a Prince song from 82 in church!!!” (cut back to VA) imma take the lead. i got on the drums…. he has been playing the marching band song for the last hour like “this is what i insist yall take!!!!” and looping it in the main room. but i got other plans. im on the drums. i stare at the drums. if i can see it i can change the course of my life right now. we are NOT taking that marching band song.
we are NOT taking that marching band song. i sit and retune the drums that I WANNA HEAR ON MY NEPTUNES SONG we are NOT taking that marching band song. i passively tap tap tap on the drums i start a groove. i make sure Andrew the engineer plays it in the studio room loud… then and i see my entry: FAM LAY!!! walks in!!!! i ignite the groove i like and he is bopping his head. (yes) its getting contagious cause the Clipse crew is bopping to my “WWphaD? Beat (whoooo!!) Chad is jamming too!! he plays a bassline…. i yell “yo…..DO THAT AGAIN!?!?!” (yeah nigga imma do the same shit on the “got a right ta” sessions, imma kool aid hype these cats into making rell give me THAT REAL SHIT) even my ex knows what gun im under so she starts shaking her lil thang to egg em on. i swear to god i have never drummed so hard in my life. i mean im playing rimshot funk (think the drums of voodoo….they dont sound hard……but because i want these niggas to FEEL IT!!! im giving shit my UMPPPPPPPPPH!!!)
D’Angelo – Voodoo
THEN its working…… frank comes in with a cowbell…..and the bongos…. i give that “chapelle to other black guy on hyjacked plane wink” you know what to do frank……
BOOM clap (du du du du du du ud)
CLAP BOOM clap (du du du du) boo boo
this is how i want my drums. Chad has a chair….he is playing the bassline cats it rhyming to themselves……and soon….as (Phar)rell….comes in….. aint no way he gonna front!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! he comes in…..and i see his head bop think the “drop it like its hot video” neck bop yeah!!!! got him!!!!!! he comes in now i got the headphones on and all i can hear is the drums of death Pharrell gets on the piano….. and i feel him getting into it….. hang on Thompson!!!!!! even though you in pain playing this shit 34 mins in a row with spasms damnit! HOLD ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! he is gonna feel this and you are NOT GONNA TAKE THAT MARCHING SONG!!!! just hang on and DONT LOSE THE FUNK cause this shit right here?!?!? THIS IS THE SONG!!!!! GIVE IT TO EM……!!!!!! all i kept saying to myself… GIVE IT TO EM!!!!!! (whoa!!!) (ho!)
—oh shit…..that is the “ho!” from many a Pharrell classic! (sings something that makes this sound like the last 30 secs of “Pass The Courvoisier” where you can hear the ghost of Pharrell going church on what sounds like a juke joint jam) come on ahmir….he ad libbing!!! “whoooooooooooooooooooooooo ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” JACKPOT!!!! HE GAVE ME HIS TRADEMARK “Justin…..WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OHHHHHHHH” everyone is bopping they heads HARD rell is 10 mins into it!!!! i can see it now———(dream sequence) Hype Williams video im playing THIS DRUM BEAT but on some Pharrell shit, like whispering in some honey’s ear…. i even start the song on some nonsensical whispering rell shit. “sup ma im back……..you miss me?….word? its hard for revolutionary freaks i know i know….but put that pamphlet down and come over here…….
i love watching the shea butter melt on your skin…..we gonna relax while my nigga (Phar)rell come with that “whoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!” HOV is cameoing in my video!!! girls are eating lollipops and winking at me as they watch me drum this million dollar beat—-in slow motion! shit is a hit! and a year later!!! “and the grammy goes to…. “The Roots and Pharrell Williams!!!!!!!! “hangbanger funk for revolutionary freaks!!!” “and now please welcome to the Oprah show for the first time “THE ROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT CREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEW!!!!!!” cut to dinner with G.U. again “you know Ahmir…..watching you drum your heart out on this song brought back memories of you and i in philly at that spike symposium…….your drunk manager tina was talking her ass off and all i could think of was you taking me and……
say no more Gabriella Union…..lets be more actions than words love….. that’s “elle” yeah….both of yall…. cut scene “mom….here are the key’s to your new house….” i can see it now!!!! i…. can just…. taste it now just hold on Ahmir…. you got Pharrell RIGHT where you want him….. (wakes up…..or comes to from dreamland) rich is still scowling. looks at rich through the booth….. gives that smug “just killed the chess game look” you little having faith in me motherfucker! i told you im the shit nigga! NOW! we got the song I NEED!!! NIGGA!!!!!! HAAAAAAAAAA! (RICH ROLLS EYES AND MOUTH SOMETHING but i cant hear or read lips) “huh?” (ewwe aji askdka kajfafj NEES sdjkjk aisle) “the huh?” (eyebrows raised i am NOT stopping this beat til they take me away on a stretcher) (rich shaking his head “AHDOAF eeeeeeeeee ADJAJ AVE ADPOPA knees aisle” (knees aisle?) i channel rich out.
he about to bring my high down and i dont even get high. seeing i got 15 mins left i decided to be like “whooooooo this is that shit!!!!! lets come up with a chorus real quick yo!!!!” (Phar)rell: man…..i just wanna say teacher its such an honor to have done that with you……i always wanted to have to honor in saying that i just had a jam session with you….. “all good my brother but i wanna get that on tape so we can flesh it out cause that shit right there?!?!?! classic classic!!!!! (Phar)rell: the huh? “yeah THAT shit!! that shit is the banging shit!!!!! we are gonna MURDER that shit yo!!!! let’s go!!!!” (Phar)rell: oh!!! that shit?!?! we just did? hahahahahahaha i can’t do that….that was Snoop’s song!!!
actually i’m creating that for Snoop and Destiny’s Child i was trying to visualize how ill that shit will sound live when N*E*R*D tours with Snoop in the fall…..cause i was envisioning some crazy shit….like….Earth Wind……..and……then if you can recommend some horn pla…………(fades)……..(echo)……slow motion………everything…….getting……hazy……………………… -cut hour later in tour bus– listening to the beat we hate. again. 16 eyebrow scowling at me with red in their eye. “why yall mad at my i thought i was on to something!” rich: nigga i was telling you that was a Snoop and Destiny’s Child idea mr “i got this!!!!!” (knees aisle= Destiny’s Child) me: hand over forehead.
Lol What do y’all think what tune did they play? If you asking me it was Signs by Snoop Dogg.