Soul Rebels' Lumar Leblanc on Drum-Battling The Roots' Questlove: "I'd Love the Challenge"

Photo by Rick Olivier

The Soul Rebels are a mighty force from New Orleans that's rocked with Metallica, covered Jay Z, and marched with instruments across the London Bridge for the BBC.

Now this eight-piece brass band is coming to Miami's favorite 24-hour liquor, food, pool, and sports center, Will Call. And founding drummer Lumar Leblanc says the band is going to put you in the "Rebel Zone."

We here at Crossfade called him up in Louisiana to find out about drum-battling Questlove, where twerking came from, and legalizing marijuana.

See also: The Roots' Questlove on Oprah, Jimmy Fallon, and Twenty Years in the Game

Crossfade: How is jazz like hip-hop?
Jazz is like hip-hop, because it requires a improvisation-type atmosphere. But jazz was created in New Orleans and hip-hop is from New York. But the two have similar roots in the hood, and both evolved into the mainstream.

Who is your favorite drummer of all time?
My local heroes I grew up with: Ruben Watts, Armen Mercadell, Quitman Thomas. These people took me under their wings. They influenced me. I would be in foul error if I didn't say they're truly my heroes. They shaped my career, and taught me the basics, how to hold the sticks, read music, how to play, how to do it all.

Where'd you get your first drum?
My first drums were actually bongos. I was in a school play in nursery school in New Orleans. I was one of the children chosen to play the drums. After that, I kept playing at home and using pans for cymbals and beating on a gumbo pot for a bass drum. In the first grade, I joined the school band, but I really started when I was five years old.

Why snare?
I kinda had a natural talent for it. Usually, whoever is the best drummer plays the snare in marching band. And when I was young, I was pretty naturally advanced. In high school, I wasn't the best, so I played bass drum.

Who would win in a battle of the bands between Soul Rebels and The Roots?
Oh, lord have mercy. We're both good at what we do. I admire them as a model for the contemporary urban live hip-hop band. I wouldn't dare cross a line or try to violate them, but I would love the challenge. And I think the world would like to see that. I hope we could be brothers together. I would love to do it. But Soul Rebels are all organic, with no electric instruments. All horns, two trumpets, tenor sax, bass drum, cymbals, percussion, snare, and sousaphone. So we would have to be judged according to instrumentation.

Who would win in a drum-off between you and Questlove?
Oh, lord. Well, Quest is one of my mentors. I look at him like a forefather, even though I'm probably older. But he plays the trap set. I play the snare. I couldn't handle him on the drum set. But on the snare, I could definitely hold my own. I love Quest. He's the man. I hope we could do something together.

I've done songs and shows with Bill Summers that are nothin' but all drums. I would hope to get Quest on something like that. All drums. Hopefully one day we can do that together.

See also: Hot 8 Brass Band's Bennie Pete Talks Feel-Good Music, Jazz Funerals, and New Orleans

Location Info


Will Call

700 NE 2nd Ave., Miami, FL

Category: Music

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