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Questlove's advice on being more creative: 'Embrace boredom'

The Roots drummer and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon band leader Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson joins Yahoo Finance to talk NFTs in the music industry and his new digital series with The Balvenie 'Quest For Craft.'

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: Welcome back to Yahoo Finance Live. In today's "Fame and Fortune," a man who needs no introduction, but I'm going to give him one anyway. Musician and director Questlove is joining us right here. And Questlove, appreciate you coming on, alongside Yahoo Finance's Alexandra Canal here with us.

And we were chatting in the break here about a few things. Among them, though, NFTs, and you've been a big in that space. Of course, there's that to get into here. Also want to get into your new series that you're launching as well in a second, but first, just because we've seen so many people kind of crazy about NFTs right now, I know you're an investor in Yacht and a lot of promise around music. What's your thoughts on how NFTs might open up democratization for fans and musicians?

QUESTLOVE: You know, well, you know, I'm an art collector. So, you know, I think that it's a unique way to have an experience. It's kind of weird that the first NFT was sort of that whole Wu-Tang single disk situation that didn't work out too cool. But, you know, as long as the artist is creative and the art is deemed worthy, then, yeah, this is obviously a peek into the future.

ALEXANDRA CANAL: Hey, Questlove, it's Allie here. So do you see this as a long-term trend in your conversations with friends, with colleagues in the industry? Is this just a short blip, or could you see NFTs sticking around for quite some time?

QUESTLOVE: I mean, that remains to be seen. I mean, oftentimes, I think we're forced to try to figure out if something is long lasting or if it's just a flash in the pan. Time is only going to tell if it's worth it. You know, like, in the beginning, let's say five years ago when I had a friend that started a business, where he told me that, you know, people are going to pay top dollar to sit in the stadium to watch kids play video games, and I was like, what the? And now look. Like, this is, like, a billion dollar industry.

So, when I first heard the fact of, like, kind of digital art being monetized and sold and becoming big business or whatnot, I mean, I was head scratching, but, you know, oftentimes, revolutions that start usually start with a lot of head scratching in the beginning. But then they just become the norm. So, yeah, I'm almost certain that 10 years from now, I think the idea of almost tangible art might be a thing of the past. Like, wait, you actually paid money to put that thing on your wall? You don't own an NFT? Like, NFTs will probably be the norm by 2040, 2050.

ALEXANDRA CANAL: I know. I definitely find myself scratching my head when it comes to NFTs. And we talk about it all the time, and it's definitely a big thing. Some other changes, though, in the music industry have definitely been the streaming boom. I know some artists have mixed feelings about streaming services like Spotify, for example, due to that payment structure. But you've also been able to reach fans through some curated playlists. So what are your thoughts on that?

QUESTLOVE: Well, you know, I got into playlists just as a means to-- I don't know. Doing playlists to me is sort of, like-- that's my version of "The New York Times" crossword puzzle. Like, that's my level of creativity, which is basically why I started the series that I'm doing on YouTube, the Quest for Crafting, because, you know, people have to find different levels of creativity. So, oftentimes, like, after I meditate on my way to work at 30 Rock to the Tonight Show, which is about a half hour's drive, I do these little games where, like, I'll make a playlist of songs about blue, or I'll make a challenge myself to see if I can come up with 100 songs that mention numbers in the first line of the song or that sort of thing.

So, you know, I know that, again, going from collecting 200,000 records to just living a life of streaming, like, this is part of the pivot and evolution of life that we're in now. Like, life will be post-2020 and pre-2020. And I think we as humans have to figure out how to adjust to the new standard or the new way of life.

AKIKO FUJITA: I mean, you've got a lot on your plate. You mentioned the Tonight Show, obviously, your music career. We're talking about NFTs today. But you've also been investing on the side here, most recent announcement coming down on investment you made in a vegan tech company. How are you looking at that? What's your checklist when you think about companies that you want to put your money behind? What's at the top of the list?

QUESTLOVE: Well, you know, I've been kind of going through an evolution or metamorphosis myself. And that starts with, like, basically, my health journey. Some five years ago, I'm in a-- I'm kind of in a-- I'm in a profession that really doesn't see its participants get to the-- not even to the middle point or to the end. Like, most people in hip hop, you know, like, when we were in our 20s, our whole goal was to not get shot in the clubs.

And then when I got in my 30s and 40s, I realized the new not getting shot in the club is the fight to survive, our health. Like, so many of our greats have either succumbed to strokes, heart attacks. You know, to make it past 50 is almost like a-- it's a celebration. And for me, I just wanted to take an overall look of where health is prioritized. And, you know, growing up where I grew up, you know, cheaper food was all around us. To eat correct or to eat right, to eat cleaner Is an expensive thing. And I kind of wanted to be part of the change that brings that forth.

So, one, you know, a lot of the food companies that I invest in are cleaner options for food, but also, you know, environmentally friendly as well. So, yeah, people have, like, two halves of their lives, their morning and their evening half. And now that I'm 50. I'm on my act of leaving the world better than I found it.

ALEXANDRA CANAL: And finally, you did mention that digital series, Quest for Craft. It debuts tomorrow. You have a great guest lineup there. I'm curious, what drives you in that search for creative inspiration? Because I think a lot of people struggle to find that part in themselves. You mentioned 2020, COVID-19, that's had a huge impact on mental health. So how do you sort of tap into your own creativity?

QUESTLOVE: Well, you know, I'm a creativity junkie. Like, I wrote a book a few years back called "Creative Quest," because, oftentimes, like, parents are, you know, rushing their teenager to me. Like, give my kid some advice on dadadada. Or, like, there's some magic that I can say that'll enforce that. And, you know, this is the second step in that direction. I wanted to come up with a platform that deals with specifically for people that are looking how to be creative. Oftentimes, people think that their exercise might be silly.

The first thing I tell people is to embrace boredom. The temptation to pick up our phones and entertain ourselves at any silent moment is kind of eating up that time that we should be sitting in silence and letting creativity come to us. So with this series that I did, I got to talk to four friends of mine, Patti Smith, Michael Che, Jimmy Jam, Malcolm Gladwell, four people in different types of creativity. And, you know, we kind of just dissect their creative process. Like, in the case of Michael Che, being one of the head writers of SNL, going there every Saturday, watching him, watching him amidst that chaos of trying to put a show together. Malcolm Gladwell really breaking down that 10,000 hour theory of his. So that's what the thing is about. Like, anyone that's in that creative space that wants advice on how to be creative, I highly recommend it.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, I mean, there's a lot of stuff in there and a lot of, I guess, reminders here for us to kind of reset in this pandemic. A lot of burnout there, but "Quest for Craft" out tomorrow. Questlove, appreciate you coming on here to chat with us. Thanks again--

QUESTLOVE: Thank you.

ZACK GUZMAN: --for the time, and our thanks to Yahoo Finance's Allie Canal as well.