Each night before the show, he stops to pick out a signature bow tie.
"I kind went over the top the past few episodes," he told Mason.
"So you're going to tone it down today?" Mason asked.
"Yeah, I don't want to be, like, the Doc Severinsen jacket and tie."
He's a cultural icon now, with three million Twitter followers.
In his new apartment, 70 floors up overlooking New York City, it can seem like Questlove is on top of the world.
"This really, to me, sort of calms me down," he said, taking in the view. "Especially at nighttime."
But face-to-face with his own success, in front of a new Philadelphia mural dedicated to The Roots, he has difficulty accepting it.
"I've never felt worthy," he told Mason. "I don't know if it's trying to please my father, or just being hard on myself. Do I drive by here and feel like, 'Yeah, I made it'? Naw."
All his life, Ahmir Thompson says, his quest has been for another kind of respect: to be seen as "normal."
Usually, he told Mason, "black entertainers and black figures in general, it's either you're superhuman or you're subhuman. But I really think it's an achievement if you're level zero. 'Cause if people can relate to you, and see you as a human being, that to me is a bigger eye-opener than for you just to leave your legacy and, 'Oh, he was a God.' You know, 'He is a God' I am a man."
To listen to The Roots perform "Tomorrow," featuring Raheem Devaughn, click on the audio player below.
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