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Questlove goes crate-digging in Cuba in new documentary

Thanks to relaxed restrictions on travel, the Roots drummer visits the record stores and studios of Havana

Of the many reasons it is great to be Questlove right now — incredible talent, a fun late-night gig, several books published, an infinitely sprawling vinyl collection — the travel opportunities have to rank up there as well.

Consider his latest adventure: Earlier this year, the Roots' drummer and hip-hop gadfly traveled to Havana for a documentary project. Cuba has been off-limits to all but a few American travelers for generations, but relaxed restrictions on a few categories of vistors (which includes artists and journalists) meant that the percussionist could now see Cuba's vital musical culture firsthand.

The short documentary, directed by Jauretsi and Daniel Petruzzi, follows Questlove as he hunts for rare records, beatboxes with locals, DJs a set at Fabrica de Arte Cubano and cruises Havana's nightlife strips. It's streaming now on the Okayplayer website.

One of the highlights is his visit to EGREM studios, where Buena Vista Social Club tracked many of the tunes that reintroduced Cuban music to American audiences (Nat King Cole and the Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes also cut LPs there).

Questlove is clearly having the time of his life in Havana here, and we can't imagine a more generous and curious musical mind to be an ambassador for a new era of U.S. and Cuban artistic relations.

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