Questlove’s soul summer was one of the most important films of 2021. The hip-hop entertainer unearthed a wealth of footage from the Harlem cultural festival in 1969. It was a series of summer days in a New York City park, a hundred miles but light years from the music festival that stole the show that summer: Woodstock.
The soundtrack album crackles with the energy of performances by (mostly) black artists surrounded by multi-generational audiences. The album opens on the rhythm with the soul of certain Chambers Brothers, plunges into blues rock with BB King, turns to pop with The 5th Dimension, goes to church with the Edwin Hawkins Singers, takes up a tempo Mongo Santamaria’s Afro-Caribbean, soaring own space with Sly & The Family Stone… it’s a showcase of African-American music in the late ’60s. that artists were looking forward to a future that has yet to materialize.