Questlove Talks Prince’s Philanthropy On ‘Fresh Air’

By Sameer Rao Apr 28, 2016

Questlove has a lot of crazy stories about Prince. A lot. While he spent a good deal of his recent "Fresh Air" interview retelling some of those stories, he briefly touched on The Purple One’s humanitarianism—something Prince didn’t talk about much in his lifetime, but became part of his legacy soon after his death last week. 

The Roots‘ drummer and producer talked about Prince during a special taping of the Philadelphia-based NPR show in front of an audience at the University of Pennsylvania. He described the iconic musicians’ guilt about introducing youth to supposedly lewd topics through his music:

Well, OK, so there was one time at the studio. He has a curse jar, a cuss jar. …And I said, huh? He said, no cursing. I said cursing? I was like, wait. You’re the one that taught me how to curse.


But the thing was is that when I said that, I was really saying it to get out of paying 20 bucks. But when I saw the look on his face and when I walked away that night and went back to the hotel, I was like, wow, I wonder if he really felt bad about that, like if he thinks in his head, like, man, I’ve ruined a generation, like, I’ve…


No, but he really felt that. And I felt that with a lot of his secret philanthropy and a lot of the Robin Hood stuff that he was doing. And I mean real deep political, like saving schools and people to this day not knowing where this $3 million check came from. Like, that was all him. I felt like maybe in the last 20 years of his life he felt the need to overcompensate or pay forward what he feels that maybe he damaged some of us who grew up listening to his music.

Besides Prince, Questlove also told host Terry Gross about his family’s musical heritage, working on "The Tonight Show" and interviewing chefs for his new book, "Something to Food About." Listen to the full interview over at