Open (Love) Letter to Amir Thompson

Today, I was listening to Questlove Supreme (on Pandora, for those of you who are not Amir, or familiar with his new radio-style show) with Ray Parker Jr. and it dawned on me how much better my life is because of the music you make and the work you do.


I first heard of the Roots when I was at Lollapalooza (’95ish?) in Dallas and my friend wanted to check y’all out on the second stage. It was the very early days of my hip hop love affair and I realized I’d seen y’all earlier that year opening for the Beastie Boys. I remember just about losing my mind when Rahzel really opened it up on us. Over the years, I ended up following your work more and more closely. I’ve seen the Roots crew live more times than any other national act, and I used to go see a lot of bands. I remember when y’all filled the gap for Wu-Tang when they got kicked off of a tour with Rage Against the Machine. I was excited that it was gonna be y’all if it wasn’t going to be the Wu but man, oh man, the crowd that night really wanted the Clan and they were practically mean to you from the floor.

But I digress. Last year I was at a bar in my old neighborhood of Brooklyn. It was a quiet night at a small, friendly place with great music playing. “You Got Me” came on and everybody in the place was singing.** I was up at the bar getting another round and a guy who had been up there on his own was also singing. I asked him, “Could you ever have imagined, when this song came out, that the Roots would end up being the house band on the Tonight Show?”

When I heard Fallon got the big gig, my first question was “are the Roots going too?!?!” It was wild enough to me that you’d been the first hip hop group on any nighttime talk show, and of course Jimmy didn’t leave y’all behind. Obviously, y’all would be on, because the Roots are hands-down one of the most talented groups of people in the music business. I love the theme music for the show. It’s totally you, but also totally friendly for the wide audience.

You, Amir, keep yourself so crazy busy, but you seem to love it. I feel like you are enjoying the ride as much as possible while it goes on. I hope you’re taking good care of yourself among all the different projects you do, in addition to a full-time job on TV. Because I want to keep up with your work for a long, long time.

*And I’m a little embarrassed to say that I never once made it out to Bowl Train, only a 10 minute cab ride from my home.

**The album that “You Got Me” is on is Things Fall Apart and came out about a semester after I read the namesake novel by Chinua Achebe in college English class. I was so proud to be hip to that reference.