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Publisher's Summary

Best-selling author and Sundance award-winning director Questlove offers a thrilling, music-driven ride through the last 50 years of American history

In Music Is History, best-selling author and Sundance award-winning director Questlove harnesses his encyclopedic knowledge of popular music and his deep curiosity about history to examine America over the past 50 years. Choosing one essential track from each year, Questlove unpacks each song’s significance, revealing the pivotal role that American music plays around issues of race, gender, politics, and identity.

Music Is History focuses on the years 1971 to the present, not only the country’s most complex and rewarding half-century when it comes to the ways that pop culture and culturally diverse history intersect and interact, but also the years that overlap with Questlove’s own life. Music Is History moves fluidly from the personal to the political, examining events closely and critically, to unpeel and uncover previously unseen dimensions, and encouraging listeners to do the same. Whether he is exploring how Black identity reshaped itself during the blaxploitation era, analyzing the assembly-line nature of disco and its hostility to Black genius, or remembering his own youth as a pop fan and what it taught him about America, Questlove finds the hidden connections in the American tapestry.

Complete with playlists organized around personal, playful themes that touch on everything from the relationship of hip-hop to music’s past to the secret ingredient in all funk songs, Music Is History is filled with and informed by Questlove’s preferences, perspectives, and particularities. It feels like both a popular history of contemporary America and a conversation with one of music's most influential and unique voices.

©2021 Ahmir Khalib Thompson (P)2021 Recorded Books, Inc.

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This would be better read than listened to

Questlove's knowledge of music is amazing and it's very interesting to see how he has internalized so much great music and the connections between different artists and their performances. He also has a very pleasant voice. Unfortunately, his depth of knowledge and the layers of meanings he sees and imparts to the listener are really hard to follow in spoken form. His sentences tend to be full of so many dependent clauses that it's difficult to keep track of the meaning. In a book, one could go back and trace all the connections but after listening to the 4th, 5th and 6th branch off of the original idea it's easy to get confused. At first this was fun but after awhile it gets exhausting. This issue could have been addressed with some stronger editing. As much as I was looking forward to this Audible presentation I'm actually going to return it because I'd rather buy the book. The other disappointing thing is that I assumed the advantage of an audio version was that we could hear some more clips of the music he talks about but there is very little offered (presumably related to copyright?). That's a shame as it would be a real bonus for the audio version.

6 people found this helpful

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Almost Perfect

The only thing that would’ve made this any better for me is if his playlist was included.

5 people found this helpful

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Possibly Better in Hard Copy Format

Questlove is a plethora of musical knowledge. In this book, he talks about historical events that happened from the year he was born (1971) to 2020. It's an autobiography of sorts that ties these events in with the music that happened to surround him each year. His musical tastes are broad, so you hear about everything from soul to funk to hip hop to rock to pop.

The concept of this book is outstanding. However, I don't feel like it translates well to audiobook. It seems to jump around a bit with what seems like footnotes or side topics. Now that I've experienced the audiobook, I'll be picking up a hard copy of this one.

2 people found this helpful

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Yes to all of this!

So honest and satisfying. It was like remenissung with a good friend who has unique insight and a beautifully Philosophical brain!

1 person found this helpful

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Time well spent

I loved listening to this book. It wasn't what I was expecting but it was awesome none the less. Appreciated the trip down memory lane.

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History Book for Sure

While I did learn some really good information about music and artists that I know and love, the delivery was very LIST LIKE, which made it difficult at times to get through. I am still in awe of Quest Loves attention to music details, I happily came to the end of this book.