What Are These Playlists All About? The Roots’ musical mastermind Questlove created a three-volume soundtrack for the former First Lady’s new memoir Becoming, which has quickly become the year’s best-selling book. According to Obama herself, “I’m so thankful to Questlove for curating these playlists and infusing them with his signature style. Life’s a little better when we live it to Questlove’s beat.” He recommends you listen to Volumes 1 and 2 in order, starting with Sam Cooke’s 1964 hit “(Ain’t That) Good News,” from Obama’s birth year, before hitting shuffle on Volume 3.
What You Get: As to be expected, this is quite a gold mine of classics. Volume 1, which covers the years of 1964-1979, contains over 300 tracks of some fabulous jazz, soul, and funk from Al Green, Sly & The Family Stone, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, and Miles Davis, along with a few nice curveballs from Kraftwerk and Sun Ra. Volume 2 goes even bigger, with some 444 tracks covering the years 1980-1997, and taking us from peak Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Prince, Tina Turner, Phil Collins, and Whitney Houston to the ‘90s’ guiltiest pleasures (C&C Music Factory and MC Hammer) and most defining moments from Janet, Mariah, and TLC. Volume 3 captures the years 1997-2018 in over 350 songs that seamlessly bounce between Missy Elliott and Ms. Lauryn Hill, Mystikal and Take 6, Alicia Keys and Beyonce, and Alabama Shakes and Flying Lotus.
Greatest Discoveries: In Volume 1, catch the jazzy, funky epic “Windy C” from 100% Pure Poison, while in Volume 2, check for the verbose Brooklyn banger “Broken Language” from Smoothe da Hustler and Trigger tha Gambler. In Volume 3, go straight to the cool grooves from Questlove pal and stellar jazz drummer and hip-hop producer in his own right, Karriem Riggins.
Could Questlove curate the soundtrack of our lives, too? I mean, he’d probably do better than we would ourselves.