The drummer, DJ, and serial entrepreneur — with an assist from Sly Stone — is ready to take his creativity to the next level with new venture AUWA Books.
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson is adding a publisher to his resume this year as he gears up to release his own book imprint, AUWA Books, under the umbrella of MCD Books, a publishing sector at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, where he will release a mix of fiction and nonfiction works.
The composer, DJ, entrepreneur, and longtime drummer for The Roots already has published author status under his belt through his books “Mo’ Meta Blues,” “Creative Quest,” and “Music Is History.” Looking ahead, the intended AUWA style will range from memoirs — including a release this month from funk pioneer Sly Stone — and books written by social media gurus to compilations of music industry tidbits and historical facts.
“I would like to think of myself of what Def Jam was trying to be back in 1985 — keep my ear to the streets, keep it underground, and keep my eyes on people that you otherwise would have never heard of, but who I feel can really do a paradigm shift,” he told the New York Times.
The idea for the new company stemmed from his now Oscar-winning documentary Summer of Soul, a story about the forgotten history of Black creatives. Through working on that project, it only seemed fitting to take the next step into publishing to continue to give the great creatives of past and present their flowers.
“I’m in a phase of my life where I’m trying to rebuild the world I never had myself as a kid,” he told the Times. “Through this imprint, I’m offering a platform.”
A notable upcoming book on AUWA’s goal sheet is Hip Hop Is History, co-written by Questlove himself alongside novelist Ben Greenman, who is best known for his collaborations with star musicians like Gene Simmons, Brian Wilson, and George Clinton. Greenman is also a co-writer on Stone’s memoir, Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin), due to arrive in October.
The name AUWA is a tribute to Prince, an onomatopoeic nod to the iconic birdcall sound he often performed on stage. When Questlove first heard the sound, he knew he wanted that to be his outlet to give the late, iconoclastic musician the sort of well-earned praise that would live on through his book imprint for generations to come.
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