In our new installment, Tech Essentials, we ask celebrities to tell us about the one gadget they can't live without. Here Questlove discusses his beloved Rugged LaCie hard drives and why D'Angelo still uses floppy disks. 

What's the most essential, everyday gadget in your life?

I go nowhere without my eight 1 TB Rugged LaCie hard drives.

You've actually filled 1 TB?

Oh, I've filled all eight of them! One of them is completely Soul Train, so all my Soul Trainepisodes are on 1 TB. I have five computers so all of them are Time Machine backed-up. 

 

[D'Angelo] has Ensoniq keyboards, and he still uses floppy disks. And, like, big floppy disks.

 

You just reminded me. Lenny [Santiago]. Former Roc-A-Fella, Lenny S., that now works at Def Jam—Lenny does the work but it's really Jay Z's hard drive—Lenny has the most immaculate, next to Jazzy Jeff, who's probably second, movie collection ever had. Jeff's is on a Drobo—the device that lets you sync 10 hard drives to one device. Lenny S. has burnt and converted nine TB of everything that was ever on DVD. But twice! So if he wants to watch The Sopranos on his iPhone, needs it compressed, that's ready. Or if he wants to watch it on the big screen, that's ready. So imagine the work that it takes to compress every DVD, twice over. When we were doing Jay Z's Reasonable Doubt 10th Anniversary show at Radio City Music Hall, he let me get at least 700 gigs of movies. I wanted the complete thing, but it would take forever. So I have half of Lenny's movie collection on one drive. Yeah, I go nowhere without those drives, cause you just never know if you might get stuck or something.

Any essential gadgets when working in the studio?

It depends on who I work with. Cause, say, with D'Angelo...if you want to know what 1998 feels like you can go into D'Angelo's room right now and literally it's set up like it's 1998.

He has nothing new?

It's the most beautiful time warp ever. He has Ensoniq keyboards, and he still uses floppy disks. And, like, big floppy disks.

[Laughs.] What?!

For real! When we did the duo show at Brooklyn Bowl and everyone was like, "What the fuck is taking y'all so long?" He literally had two big-ass baskets of floppy disks, looking for the bass noise he was going to play when we played the S.O.S. on "Tell Me if You Still Care." It took us 20 minutes to go through and I'm just looking at these floppy disks. They're marked 1994, '95, '96. He still swears by the original Wu-Tang Clan, Ensoniq of 1993. So, for D'Angelo, the album is still made on analog. Or like, his analog world that was between '95 and 2000. It's kinda time-warpy to walk into that. —As told to Gus Turner