Driving While Black – Questlove Anecdote

So that was my one and only car. I had a ritual that when we finished a record I would take the finished mix and listen to it as I drove around. This is a common practice in the record industry. In the basement at one of the studios we recorded in, they had a full-size van that engineers used to sit in when they were working on a record. Jimmy Iovine told us that back in the seventies, he used to have a half-car set into the wall so that people could listen to albums in their natural environment. When we wrapped How I Got Over, I put it in my jacket pocket and went out to the Scion, Portable Studio A, to take it around Philadelphia and see if it held up. It was late Saturday night, early Sunday morning. No one was around except for the cops, and after about fifteen minutes one of them pulled me over. The first officer checked my license, gave it back to me, let me go. About fifteen minutes later, I was pulled over again, same thing: license, please; thank you, sir; you can go.

The album was working for me – I liked what I heard – but after a little while I was hungry, so I got myself a fish sandwich on Broad Street and pulled over to eat it. That’s when the third police cruiser pulled up alongside of me. The officer got out, walked up to the car, shined his flashlight through the window.

“Evening,” he said.

“Hi,” I said. “I’m Questlove.”

He stared at me for a second, eyes narrowed in confusion, and then his face uncreased. “Oh, yeah,” he said. “Hi.” He came closer to the car, friendly now.

I was happy that he wasn’t giving me any trouble, but now my curiosity was aroused. “Tell me something,” I said. “What’s the matter? Why am I a magnet for you guys tonight?”

“Oh,” he said. “That’s easy. We’re in the Temple University neighborhood.”

“Right,” I said.

“And you’re in this car.”

“And me in this car what?” I loved my Scion. It was part of my identity. I thought anything more lavish was the kind of thing a drug dealer would drive. This was the car of a thoughtful artist, a man who didn’t live through his material possessions.

“It’s the wrong car for you,” he said. “It just doesn’t look right. If you were driving an SUV, you’d look like a professional football player. But this little thing sets off alarms. It looks like you took it from a college student.”

Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove
Thompson, Ahmir “Questlove”

Note – this book was one of –The 50 Greatest Rock Memoirs of All Time – Rolling Stone List