EXCLUSIVE: The Roots Reveal Their Favorite Late-Night Eats — Plus, Two New Tracks
Questlove (Ahmir Thompson) and Black Thought (Tariq Trotter) are two of the most food-obsessed musicians in the industry, but they weren’t always hitting up restaurant hotspots and cooking on-air with Martha Stewart.
When their band The Roots first got their start in Philadelphia and would travel to New York for gigs, they’d eat standard late-night city fare after shows: bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches from bodegas, diner food and meat from those street carts.
“I used to be the diner food person after midnight because I thought that was the only option,” Questlove tells PEOPLE. “But as I got older and more mature, my tastes got more refined.”
Now, Questlove’s late-night haunts — he usually finishes DJ’ing around 2 a.m. — are decidedly more sophisticated. “My go-to spot would be En Japanese Brasserie,” he says. “There’s a vast array of really, really good Korean cuisine that you can get between 3 and 7 in the morning, between like 29th and 35th street.”
During slightly more standard eating hours, Black Thought frequents some of the most acclaimed restaurants in the city.
“I like Del Posto, and Babbo is one of my favorite restaurants,” he tells PEOPLE of two of Mario Batali‘s famed eateries. “I like The Smith. They’re owned by the same people who own Jane, which is another really good restaurant. The Nomad Bar, Eleven Madison Park.”
As food-loving musicians, the two have always noticed the interplay between taste and sound. Inspired by the research of Professor Charles Spence, who has studied the ways in which one sense can stimulate another, they partnered with Stella Artois to produce two new tracks inspired by the flavors of the beer — one “sweet,” one “bitter” — which can be heard for the first time below.
Bittersweet Side A (Bitter):
Bittersweet Side B (Sweet):
“F-minor was the chord that spoke to me that could work for both bitter and sweet. It kinda just starts there. You let the track dictate to you what it should be,” Questlove says of conceptualizing the tracks. “When creating the brass track, I used a lot of shakers, I was thinking of New Orleans so in my head, I heard shakers, spices and the sound of onions cooking and that sort of thing. I felt there were a lot of spices and peppers there.”
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“The foundation is percussive, very much in the way that — especially the part that he’s talking about. It’s celebratory,” Black Thought adds. A music video will be released later this month.