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On a recent trip to Africa to perform at a graduation ceremony for one of Oprah Winfrey’s schools, Questlove had his reservations. He underestimated his audience, thinking that he would have to limit what he wanted to say, but was pleasantly surprised. Via Speakeasy:

“I learned the biggest lesson of my life that night,” he said in a recent interview with Speakeasy. “Never underestimate the power of the absolutely potent substance that is hip hop.” The students knew more about his music than he expected, and he was reminded of how far music can travel.

Inspired by the far-reaching impact of music – and, hip hop, in particular – Questlove initiated a new project called “Player Xchange.” The project will put together “African and U.S.-based artists and task them with collaborating on a track, which they will then record at Williamsburg recording studio, Converse Rubber Tracks…

The first collaboration features Nigerian singer Bez and Brooklyn-based rapper Sene. Questlove says the project will offer an alternative to televised music competitions like “American Idol” and “The Voice.” “I feel like this is more organic,” he says. “I really have a hard time with this hyperbolic, just-add-water system we have in America now,” with the promise that, “Okay, we’re going to audition you and run you through the wilderness, and in 13 weeks you’re going to be a star.”




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