THE BELIEVER: So, who are the Yodas?
AHMIR THOMPSON: Back in ’97, D’Angelo and I were sorta living through Star Wars episodes. But the thing is, I’m probably the only man alive who has not seen Star Wars.
AT: I went to see it when I was six, and I fell asleep. When it got rereleased in ’97 I went again and fell asleep.
BLVR: Do you normally fall asleep in the movies?
AT: Ever since Rain Man I’ve realized that if I sit still for more than two hours, I’ll fall asleep. Anyway, I never saw Star Wars. So one day D says, [his voice gets deep and growly, a solid impression of D’Angelo; he pantomimes pulling on an imaginary joint twice, three times], “Yeah nigga. The way I see it [pulls on the joint again] the radio stations and the media is like the Death Star, and I’ma be Luke Skywalker. It was this whole revolution that was going to save music. Q-Tip was gonna be Harrison Ford. Lauryn [Hill] was gonna be Princess Leia. Erykah [Badu] was Queen Amidala. I said, “Who am I gonna be?” D said, “You’re gonna be Chewbacca.” I said OK. I accepted the role of Chewbacca without knowing who the hell Chewbacca was. But I knew that Yoda was the wise figure. I said, “Who’s gonna be Yoda?” He said, “We gotta divide Yoda up into different people and they’ll just be collectively known as Yoda.” So, it was Jimi [Hendrix], Marvin [Gaye], James Brown, [Bob] Marley, George [Clinton], Stevie [Wonder], Al [Green], Aretha [Franklin], Miles [Davis], and Nina [Simone]. We had a token white entry. Who was it? Oh, Joni [Mitchell]. The youngest one of all the Yodas is Prince. They are the elements that we refer to when we talk about Yoda.
An interview with Ahmir Thompson (August 2003).