Questlove Says His Critique of 2Pac's "Hit 'Em Up" Was 'Taken Outta Context'

The Roots drummer said 'Pac's classic diss is the "weakest musical smack"—for a specific reason.

Rich Fury / Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Questlove is clarifying his recent thoughts regarding 2Pac's "Hit 'Em Up," the classic 1996 diss track aimed at the Notorious B.I.G., Junior M.A.F.I.A., and Mobb Deep.

During a recent appearance on the One Song podcast, the Roots drummer claimed "Hit 'Em Up" isn't one of the greatest disses in hip-hop history.

“I would actually respect 2Pac’s ‘Hit ‘Em Up’ if his music tracking was better. ... ‘Hit 'Em Up,’ to me, is disqualified, not because of the misogynist—forget all that. It’s like, ‘Dude, you’re rhyming over smooth jazz dinner music,'" Quest said. "Luther Vandross could sing over this!”

The 53-year-old added, “People who are born in the latter part of the decade that I was born in—alright, I was born in the ’70s, news flash—their relationship with 2Pac is different than my relationship. And so thus, when this came out, they were like, ‘This is hard as shit! Yo, he killin’ it!’"

Quest—who recently said "hip-hop is truly dead" due to Kendrick Lamar and Drake's beef—continued by explaining he wasn't a fan of the track's interpolation of “Don’t Look Any Further,” the 1984 Dennis Edwards and Siedah Garrett song.

“And I was like, ‘Dog, he smooth jazzed up Dennis Edwards," he said. "It doesn’t count. … That song, to me, is the weakest musical smack."

Questlove says he would respect 2Pac's diss song "Hit 'Em Up" if the music tracking were better, and calls "Hit 'Em Up" the weakest musical smack.

(🎥 One Song Podcast/YouTube) pic.twitter.com/0fIlxIqNaK

— The Art Of Dialogue (@ArtOfDialogue_) May 14, 2024
Twitter: @ArtOfDialogue_

On Tuesday, Quest hopped on Instagram to clarify his comments.

“So we are clear: I said I never liked the INTERPOLATION (when musicians replay a sample) of ‘Don’t Look Any Further’ on ‘Hit Em Up,'” Quest began. “I said nothing disparaging about Dennis Edwards or Pac—y’all turning this into a weird game of telephone. The INTERPOLATION is what I’m talking about. Don’t take my ish outta context.”

In an extensive caption, he added, "I feel like my words were taken outta context from that interview so I’m making it clear that I was never a fan of that particular musical interpretation of 'Don’t Look Any Further.'"

Quest's caption also revisited his recent comments on Kendrick vs. Drake, and beef in general. "Still mostly not a fan of dis records mostly because having lived in that period (mid 90s) I never seen any good results from hip hop beef," he said. "& yeah you don’t have to remind me of my role on Unplugged——-that wasn’t one of my brighter moments & had I had a redo I prolly woulda had second thoughts of the 'Takeover' situation. ... I know Battling is part of the sport of hip hop. If there was a history of cats just keeping it on wax? Yeah, idda been 🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿 along w yall. But as with MOST battles it leaves the MCs & Their Crews & then suddenly the outside world gets involved. Those were dark times if you were there. ... I would rather see cats collaborating than where we are now."

When it comes to the "Hit 'Em Up" interpolation, at least one Twitter user took issue with Questlove's logic by calling the Roots' confrontational 1996 track "What They Do" a song that "would’ve been perfect for Sade to hop on."

Questlove must’ve forgotten his group dissed a whole style and movement (Biggie and Bad Boy) over a track that would’ve been perfect for Sade to hop on. https://t.co/mAHzbmCY0f pic.twitter.com/ksfxx7Zfdi

— Carl Thomas’ Turtleneck (Real Name’s KJ) (@therealkj4) May 14, 2024
Twitter: @therealkj4

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