Today, thanks in part to his plum Tonight Show gig, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson is an instantly recognizable celebrity. But that wasn’t quite the case back in 2004, when Questlove and his band, The Roots, were widely respected and even loved but had yet to make a true commercial breakthrough. That level of middling fame is at the heart of an anecdote Questlove shared in an episode of the web series Storyville about his experience with Prince during the latter’s mid-2000s Musicology tour. Okayplayer has transformed this brush with purple-tinged greatness into a neat 5-minute cartoon, but Thompson’s story holds up nicely on its own purely as audio. It’s a humbling tale with an optimistic ending and a cute romantic subplot. Plus Prince is in it.
In the video, Questlove describes an eventful first date he had in Philadelphia with a young woman he’d only met once previously and whom he very much wanted to impress. And what could be more impressive than taking her and nine other people to a Prince show in a pink stretch Humvee with a hot tub in the back? (More tasteful limos were not available in the Philly area, Thompson states.) The evening was going great, but there was just one problem: Questlove had neglected to buy a ticket for himself, and the show was sold out. The Roots drummer decided to bank on his semi-stardom and wound up sitting onstage with Prince during the show. In exchange, he was to throw together a decent after party for Prince and the band. And that is where the trouble began. Questlove was DJing the impromptu event, and it seems Prince did not much care for the Fela Kuti records Thompson was spinning, even the uptempo ones. What did His Royal Badness prefer? A DVD of Finding Nemo, minus any musical accompaniment. After that, Thompson had to ask himself a tough question: “Did I just get fired and replaced with a cartoon fish?” Yes, but as stated previously, the story ends with a redemptive party at Prince’s own home, complete with the music of Fela Kuti.