Questlove’s reaction to Prince’s death was emotional and heartbreaking; shortly after the news broke, The Roots bandleader wrote, “I can’t f—ing breathe right now.”
Now, Questlove has detailed at length Prince’s influence on his life in a personal essay for Rolling Stone. Questlove remembers buying Prince’s album 1999 at age 11 and purchasing it again and again after his parents threw it away.
“Prince was in my ears and he was in my head. Starting then, I patterned everything in my life after Prince,” Questlove writes. “I had older half-brothers, but Prince — unknown to me then, but not unseen or unheard, thanks to magazines, TV, radio, and my secret stash — was a guide to me in every way.”
Later, Questlove argues Prince was “was more hip-hop than anyone,” greatly influenced the genre, and recalls the time he cursed at Paisley Park and being forced to throw money in Prince’s swear jar.
In the touching conclusion, the 45-year-old drummer cited Prince as his driving motivation throughout his career, making him work harder.
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“For the last twenty years, whenever I was up at five in the morning, I knew that Prince was up too, somewhere, in a sense sharing a workspace with me,” he writes. “For the last few days, 5 a.m. has felt different. It’s just a lonely hour now, a cold time before the sun comes up.”
Read Questlove’s full essay at Rolling Stone.