Shuffle Culture at BAM

Questlove goes live to get digital

The Brooklyn Paper
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His music is probably on your iPod — and now your iPod is influencing his music.

Questlove is the most recognizable member of one of rap’s only live bands, but The Roots’s drummer is casting aside his analog, well, roots, to put together a new performance inspired entirely by the digital tunes we carry in our pockets.

The percussionist, DJ, and all-around creative mastermind for the Philadelphia hip hop act is bringing this brave new musical idea to Brooklyn Academy of Music in “Shuffle Culture,” a two-night engagement inspired by the randomness of iPods.

The legendary drummer will be performing alongside creative luminaries such as human beatbox mastermind Rahzel, beatbox comedian human Reggie Watts, and experimental pop group Deerhoof — but it’s anyone’s guess what will happen or what kind of music he’ll cook up on April 19 and 20.

BAM guarantees the show will be a cutting edge aural experience that merges a playlist with a performance, bouncing between acts including a string quartet, a pianist, beatboxers, a spoken word poet and a DJ.

“Songs and fragments will be arranged in a way that is at once arbitrary and cohesive,” the venue promised.

Questlove is known around the nation for being the guy in Jimmy Fallon’s house band with the awesome haircut, around hip hop circles for his decades-long run with rap legends The Roots, and around the borough for laying down beats at Brooklyn Bowl on Thursdays.

But he’s always been on willing to push his creative boundaries: his side project “The Philadelphia Experiment,” an album he recorded with pianist Uri Caine and bassist Christian McBride, garnered plenty of acclaim.

The drummer is clearly willing to experiment, but it’s still a bit of a surprising turn for a musician who spends so much time performing live to take his cues from something so digital.

BAM says the show will recreate the feeling of listening to a playlist on shuffle — giving you a perfect excuse to leave your iPod at home for a night.

Questlove’s “Shuffle Culture,” at BAM [30 Lafayette Ave. between Fulton Street and Ashland Place in Fort Greene, (718) 636-4100], April 19 and 20 at 8 pm. $25. For info, visit

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at
Updated 5:32 pm, July 9, 2018
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