The Roots Got Their Big Break In A Philly Strip Club, According To Questlove

Written by on May 9, 2022

Before The Roots became known as the band we love today on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, they spent their time playing at a Philadelphia strip club, where they actually had their big break, according to Questlove. As Page Six reports, the drummer recently appeared on a new podcast – Til This Day with Radio Rahim – and opened up about the group’s humble beginnings.

Back in the day, The Roots’ rise to local success was thanks to the “Ivy League route, playing college frat parties,” Quest explained, also mentioning that another hot spot in Philly was “a talent night for rap groups at this strip club called the Princess Lounge at North Philly.”

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“We walk into the Princess Lounge and I’m hella esoteric. I’m wearing Birkenstocks,” the 51-year-old recalled. “And they’re just looking at us like, ‘You’re wearing Birkenstocks in North Philadelphia?'”

Thankfully, Questlove and company’s musical talent was able to win the audience over, and as fate would have it, a local legend saw their potential and decided to help them achieve greatness.

“One of the guys happened to be a local college radio DJ legend named AJ Shine,” the Oscar-winner told Rahim during their interview. “[He] told the band, ‘Yo, I want to record you all. Let’s do a 12-inch single.”

“That 12-inch single winds up being an EP, which then winds up being [a] 16-song record, which then winds up being kind of our demo. And within a year’s time, we finally get a record deal.”

The Roots would go on to share their first album, Organix, in 1993 and have achieved a total of three Grammy wins and 14 nominations over the years.

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