Questlove Says His 'Meticulous' Playlist for Michelle Obama Took 10 Years to Perfect

The star is teaming up with Williams Sonoma for a new popcorn line featuring adventurous flavors


While Questlove just released an expertly curated soundtrack for Michelle Obama‘s new memoir, Becoming, his passion for creating an epic soundtrack in honor of the Obamas goes back long before they were in the White House.

“I became so obsessed with curating the ultimate President Obama playlist that it actually consumed me. I could never get past the letter ‘C.’ I was that meticulous,” the Roots frontman, 47, tells PEOPLE exclusively. “When he was thinking about running, I was like, ‘I’m going to curate for Barack Obama the ultimate iPod!”

At the time, the Grammy winner was volunteering and campaigning for the former president. After performing “two live music events” and DJing at the White House,” he became extremely familiar with all of the former first family’s musical tastes.

“I made sure the very first song that I chose was an actual song that was in existence the week she was born. I just played imaginary, music scorer of her life story,” he recalls of the process behind the soundtrack for Michelle Obama.

Eventually, Questlove packaged over 1000 songs into a three-volume playlist called The Michelle Obama Musiaqualogy. The comprehensive collection features songs from Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin to Kendrick Lamar and Beyoncé.

International Day of the Girl on NBC's Today Show, New York, USA - 11 Oct 2018
Michelle Obama. Charles Sykes/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

“It was such a task, but I’m glad to have gotten these songs over to her,” he reflects. “Now, I feel like my mission of getting the Obama’s music is finally done, some 10 years later. I definitely put my concentration on making the perfect playlist. That is my New York Times crossword puzzle. That is my challenge in life.”

Beyond sharing his musical abilities and playlists with the world, Questlove is excited for fans to try his brand-new popcorn line at Williams Sonoma.

“I’m the guy who goes to the supermarket and makes his own concoction of spices for popcorn,” the avid movie watcher reveals. “This is pretty much my version of being the change I want to see or pretty much making it easier for myself, not having to go through this half-hour trouble of combining my garlics and salts and spices together and sneaking them into the movie theater.”

While his partners at Williams Sonoma first suggested some “regular flavors,” he insisted on being adventurous. This led him to create flavors called “Saturday Morning Cereal” and to use ingredients like lemon pepper.

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“There’s a lemon and pepper market out there that is being absolutely underserved, and I want to be their savior,” jokes. “I would just have these viewing parties and be like, ‘Hey, try the popcorn,’ and the bowl was empty in a matter of minutes.”

Without telling his friends and family, Questlove tapped into their taste buds to get the best flavors and see what was working.

“Maybe after the third or fifth time around, after adjusting, that’s when I knew we had a hit on our hands because it went from ‘Interesting…’ to ‘Oh my God, I have to have some more,’” he says.

Of the final product, “This is one of the rare cases that I’ll say the destination was actually the highlight of the experience,” adds the star.

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