If you weren’t part of the Philly 4th of July Jam, what would you be doing to celebrate in the city that started it all?
I’d probably be scheming and trying to find a way to get prime seats to see this show. I ask my teenage self, “What do you wanna see?” I remember 10-15 years ago kind of rolling my eyes at the options that were before me for Philadelphia. In my opinion, 4th of July in Philly should be what New Year’s Eve is in Times Square. Where else to celebrate the 4th of July than the place where the declaration was signed? I was always said, “Man, Philly needs to step up it’s game and really bring some entertainment.” When we proposed the idea of us taking over the festivities, the city couldn’t of been happier. “What took you so long?!,” they said. For me, I would probably be sleeping/tailgating somewhere right about now, finding prime spots for the show.
What are your essentials for a tailgate?
First of all, you need about four or five other partners to relieve you. That’s tailgate rule number one: never tailgate by yourself. Food-wise, Philly is the home to some of the greatest, tastiest portable foods. Hoagie options, cheeseteak options, don’t necessarily have to have BBQ like other cities – enough to feed a multitude. And bring your friends.
Over the last five years, what has been the most epic Philly 4th moment?
I’d say the look on people’s faces when we pulled off the impossible last year and showed the world a brand new Lauryn Hill. That to me was like, one for the record books. We kept it a secret, I don’t know how. We really didn’t know if it was going to happen, we put the offer out there maybe 24 hours before. It just came off like gangbusters, I couldn’t believe it. It was a magic moment. Also, I always try to have one or two personal wish list people to play with. Getting veterans that I grew up on, Earth, Wind & Fire, Michael McDonald, these are guys I practiced to in my West Philadelphia basement. To even be seen as peers of them, on the same stage, kinda freaks me out. One of my favorite times is when Boyz II Men did it with us… we all went to high school together… for us to perform for the first time for our city was an exciting moment.
How does Questlove kick it in the summer? Any favorite vacation spots?
People that know Questlove know that he does not say “no” to any job whatsoever. I’m the last person on earth to actually utilize the word “relax.” The way I’m gonna spend my summer is scoring two movie projects, three television projects, coming up with more ideas, of course Tonight Show madness… I have to have my syllabus ready, going to start teaching at NYU in January. I’ll probably spend my summer relaxing by taking on a 17th job (literally). We just haven’t figured out what it is yet.