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DJ Questlove a pop culture phenomenon
By Brian Offenther

Bookending our year of quality DJ shows in Shanghai, Questlove will be spinning this Wednesday.

Questlove (commonly stylized “?uestlove”) is best known as the main spokesperson, coleader and drummer for hip-hop band The Roots. The group appears nightly with his band on popular American-based TV show “Late Show with Jimmy Fallon.” They also release albums and tour.

Even outside of his group, he is one of the world’s most active creators of popular culture.

To simply read a list of his achievements is impressive: He founded hip-hop music community website Okayplayer; produces music for other musicians and scores films; writes books; owns a line of “hoodie” clothing stores; teaches a university course on pop music; appears as a pundit or guest on many culture and music shows; and even acts in comedy skits.

That’s not to mention his very active DJ career, which is what he’ll be doing this Wednesday night at Unico.

He was last there on January 23, spinning a DJ set that was rarely surpassed throughout the year — and arguably wasn’t at all.

Part of what made his set great is what American rap legend Kool Moe would call sticking to themes: Questlove’s set was almost entirely comprised of recreated hip hop beats from the original disco and funk their music was sampled from. He would then seamlessly transition into the hip hop track it spawned. He did this over and over, almost three hours straight.

His MC of the evening was mostly a wallflower, the dance floor had shoes glued to it. This was more dissertation than a disco, a class more than jam. People involved in the music scene in Shanghai at the event — and there were many — watched like hawks at the proceedings, checking the technique.

For others, it was a fun time with plenty of funky classics. With the end of the set nearing, the audience had thinned a bit, but everyone seemed to have a good time.

There’s no word yet on Questlove’s plans for the upcoming set. One can expect a focus on so-called roller boogie, funk, and classic hip hop breaks that have made up his weekly “Bowl Train” nights in New York City.

Also of note might be the length of his set. A recent one in Miami topped seven hours. It’s hard to imagine a Shanghai audience, especially a weekday one, stomaching something like that.

This year has seen some great DJ shows: Keb Darge, Drop The Lime, DJ Yoda, and Cut Chemist come to mind as some of the best international guests. It is only appropriate, though, that the hardest working man in hip hop comes for a second time to bring the beat back.

Date: December 18, 10pm-2am
Venue: Unico, 2/F, 3 Zhongshan Rd E1 (near Guangdong Rd)
Admission: 150 yuan

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