Questlove Reveals What Makes Jay-Z So Successful on Debut Episode of Fader Uncovered

Illustration for article titled Questlove Reveals What Makes Jay-Z So Successful on Debut Episode of Fader Uncovered
Photo: Emma McIntyre (Getty Images)

Mark Ronson, a human cheat code who’s more commonly known as “Your Favorite Producer’s Favorite Producer,” has joined forces with The FADER to bless us all with a new podcast, FADER Uncovered.


Each episode features the Grammy Award-winning multi-instrumentalist engaging in in-depth conversations with iconic musicians like Erykah Badu, Rico Nasty, and more. But here’s the catch: Each interview is based upon The FADER’s own cover stories, which gives Ronson and his guests the opportunity to discuss the past, present, and future of music and artistry, and reflect on the breakthroughs, creative struggles, and evolutions that occur throughout their career under the spotlight.

In its debut episode, Ronson chopped it up with the incomparable The Roots (not to be confused with this publication) frontman Questlove, who reflected on the impact that being on the cover of The FADER had on his career, his work with Jay-Z, and a number of other topics.

By 2002, The Roots had successfully transitioned from lords of the underground to capturing far more universal appeal and acclaim. But despite being showered with a deluge of praise and accolades, including a Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for 2000's “You Got Me,” the band had yet to secure a magazine cover. That changed when The FADER gave them the co-sign they craved by putting them front and center on their 12th issue.

“It was important to me simply because we weren’t exactly cover material for the mainstream periodicals,” Questlove said. “So it was kind of a big deal at the time. And I was excited because it was my first cover.”

The Roots also have an extensive history with Jay-Z, having rode shotgun as his backing band on the critically acclaimed live album, 2001's Jay-Z: Unplugged. The rap legend returned the favor by signing the group to Def Jam in 2005 after Jay-Z became president of the historic hip-hop label.


In reflecting on their decades-long relationship, Questlove praised the 4:44 rapper, insisting that “people who are really successful are open.”

“Jay’s a guy where it’s like, ‘Okay, let’s try this idea. Let’s try this idea. Let’s try this idea.’ He’s open to all ideas and what sticks,” he said. “That’s what works. That’s what we go with. You know, that’s how we forged our relationship.”


Questlove also attributed his signature style to “a bold change in direction.”

“[It’s] one of the toughest things an artist can do, especially when you’ve just broken through to the mainstream,” he said. “I mean, it’s the musical equivalent of burning a bag of money.”


Listen to the entire episode of FADER Uncovered on your podcast platform of choice.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for y'all to stop putting sugar in grits.