Questlove and The Obama’s linked up on Friday night for The Martha’s Vineyard Africa American Film Festival.
The former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama making a surprise appearance to promote “Descendant”. The movie is about a search to find the remains of the last burned slave ship to arrive in America, named the Clotilda. Descendants from the ship document the history. The movie takes place in Alabama.
The Obama’s acquired the documentary for Netflix through their company, Higher Ground Productions, after it premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.
During their surprise visit they were introduced by longtime friend Questlove.
“When we screened this… we looked at it and immediately thought, ‘This is why we’re doing Higher Ground,’” Michelle Obama said. “Because what we know about our history as Black people, we don’t talk about nothing. We can’t get anything out of our elders, can we? We don’t know anything,”
This is not the first time The Obama’s worked with Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson.
But the last time they worked together Thompson said it was the worst gig of his life.
“I’m sorry…he hates when I tell this story,” he told Distractify, referencing Obama. “One of the worst DJ gigs of my life was DJing for the Obama’s previously at the White House,” Questlove explains. “It turned out to be a lesson that I didn’t know I needed to learn. I say it’s the worst DJ gig of my life and he [Barack] says, ‘That’s nonsense. We had the time for our lives.’ But what I wanted to do didn’t happen.”
Questlove also spoke about his relationship with DJing, as it gives him a connection to the people listening to the music he’s playing while also creating distance and solitude.
“DJing is a social shield,” he added. “Maybe it allows me to have the loudest voice in the room. It allows me to be present in the room and allows no personal interaction, so even as I speak I’m trying to analyze like, why is it that my presence is required.”
Nevertheless, The Obama’s are still fans of Questlove. He even executive produces for the new film. Barack and Michelle praised the documentary and spoke to how it fits into their larger storytelling ambitions with Higher Ground and Netflix.