Questlove has developed a bad habit of forgetting his wallet at work when he leaves for the night. It’s the perfect drum mute, he explains to me, so he ends up leaving it on the drum set in his dressing room at The Tonight Show, which doubles as The Roots’ recording studio. When I point out to him that the show would likely purchase him an actual, purpose-built drum mute, he grunts dismissively and waves his hands. It’s as if I’ve told Willie Nelson he could buy a new guitar instead of playing the same old one over and over.
This habit has some consequences. Not only is it embarrassing when he takes his friends out to dinner and suddenly can’t pay (on a recent night, even though the restaurant offered to cover dinner, he made everyone wait while he ran back to the office to get it so he could pay, himself), but he doesn’t have his ID to get into the elevators when he arrives for work at the very security-conscious NBC offices. As he’s escorting me upstairs, he has a brief confrontation with the guard at the gate. They don’t want to let him in.
“Come on, it’s me!” he says, joking, but also a bit exasperated.
“I know it’s you,” the guard says. “But where’s your ID?”