The multihyphenate Ahmir Thompson, originally known as drummer L The famous hip-hop group The Roots – He publishes his first book for children, which is a middle-grade novel entitled Tim’s Rhythme, scheduled for release in April 2023. Co-authored with The New York Times Best-selling, award-winning author SA CosbyThe series editorial is published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers.
The book follows best friends Kasia and Raheem, two nerdy black teens trying to navigate time travel, family, and friendship in a… Philadelphia, the birthplace of the author/director.
Speaking with PEOPLE EXCLUSIVELY about his upcoming release, Questlove, 51, explains that what started as a pandemic project has grown to include many of his favorites.
“Throughout 2020, I’ve had a lot of time to deal with the list of things I wouldn’t have had time for otherwise. I had this craving, as a time-traveling geek, to get rid of that,” he shares.
Collaborating with Cosby to write the book, a friend who wanted to collaborate with him, was an “easy decision”.
Never miss a story – subscribe PEOPLE’s free daily newsletter To stay up-to-date with the best people have to offer, from juicy celebrity gossip to compelling human interest stories.
“I wanted to work with SA Cosby, who’s been having a great year. We have a lot in common, so I felt like it was a natural fit for him to be the guiding light and help me,” he says, adding that Cosby was “the adult in the room.” When it comes to the technical details of the book. “Because the only thing I wasn’t very sure of was, as much of a geek as I am, I don’t know the proper technical conditions for time travel.”
The work of the book sees Raheem and Kasia’s parents involved in the event as well. It was important for Questlove to speak to both parents and children through those characters.
“For a lot of kids of color, when you were He was raised in the cityIt’s almost impossible not to be in a constant fight-or-flight situation,” he says, referring to his own experiences of having to “learn the rules of survival” growing up in Philadelphia in the 1980s.
As a result of this upbringing, Questlove notes, “parents may tend to be very strict, just in the name of survival, for safety.”
“When you live for safety, you’re basically living for 24 hours, like, ‘Okay, I made that 24 hours now.'” the next night? I made it. “As a result, it doesn’t leave much room for the idealized way we view childrearing in the media. I wanted to do some kind of revision,” he says.
In the book, Raheem and his father reflect on a youthful love for his favorite hip-hop group, a situation Questlove remembers from his childhood.
“As far as I was raised in a musical home, there was definitely a time when my father and I had constant disagreements about the music I was listening to as a teenager, once I started listening to Enemy of the People And the L.L And a lot of old-school hip-hop,” he said. He was like, “Uh, man, you were so good listening to John Coltrane.”
Questlove hopes that through Raheem and his father’s relationship, he can “plant a seed for the parents” as well as the readers.
“Because when you write children’s books, it’s not just the kids in the room. There’s also an adult in the room, too,” Questloff adds. “I really wanted it to be a model for communication, for finding commonalities between the two, like the parents in the book realizing how much they have in common with their children.”
with the rhythm of timeQuestlove hopes to instill some of the common themes he holds through music, filmmaking, and his other creative endeavors.
“One is that creativity is key. I feel like creativity is the gateway, the release and the world of magic that oftentimes—especially kids like me—don’t have the luxury to immerse themselves in,” he notes.
“I also want to instill confidence in people to re-imagine and reverse the things we’ve learned,” he continues. “Failure doesn’t mean, ‘It’s over and on to something else.’ I see failures as a way of learning a lesson.”
He adds, “It was not my intention to preach to children, but for me, this is the creative way that I can show people where my life is and also sow seeds in their lives as well.”
the rhythm of time Hits bookshelves April 18, 2023.