This past weekend in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, The Roots held their fifth annual Roots Picnic. Intertwining several genres of progressive music with closing performances each night by Hip Hop legends, thousands packed the Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing.
On Saturday (June 2), day 1, The Roots took the stage around 8pm and were soon joined on stage by Maybach Music Group’s Wale. Wale acknowledged The Roots as one of the first major artists to give him a shot as he was a featured artist on their 2008 single “Rising Up,” and the chemistry was evident. A reactive audience sang along with all of Wale’s biggest hits and the energy was at a high as the crowd anticipated De La Soul’s performance that followed.
The Roots remained as De La took to the stage. With a more than 20 year history in the hip-hop record business, they performed a long set of classic tunes that included “Me, Myself, & I,” “Stakes is High,” and “Oooh.” Black Thought was not the only emcee backing up De La, they were soon joined by Yasiin Bey (f/k/a Mos Def). A stage jam packed with decades of Hip Hop history made for a performance that may never be duplicated. A smooth transition came as De La’s set wrapped with the Al Hirt “Harlem Hendoo”-sampled “Ego Trippin'” that lead into the Roots’ own flip of the same sample on “Stay Cool.”
The Roots continued to perform, and would soon take the stage again on Day 2, Sunday evening (June 3). This time, the band was joined by the man who (with Eric B.) made Paid In Full, Follow The Leader, and so many other acclaimed records, Rakim. With his Brooklyn cap twisted a bit to the side, Rakim rocked along with Black Thought and the band to many of his classics. A flawless performance of his storytelling track, “Know The Ledge,” was a highlight. Again closing the show, this time the festival as a whole, the Roots hosted a jam session.
The new breed of Hip Hop artists also took advantage of its opportunity to shine at The Roots Picnic. Chicago-based Kids These Days rocked an impressive set, sharing their youthful energy with the crowd. The band of young artists includes multi-talented singers, guitarists, trumpets, a keyboard player, and rapper Vic Mensa. As Kids These Days finished, Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire and his posse positioned themselves on the indoor stage. He and his rhyming partner Goldie Glo took their back-n-forth set-concluding song to the audience, which incited a mosh pit. This was followed by a performance by Fools Gold artist Danny Brown, who was joined by his deejay on the outdoor stage. With his fellatio-inspired lyrics, he entertained the crowd that continued to grow.
Philly’s own emcees attracted the audience as well. On Day 1, Rap duo OCD: Moosh & Twist traded verses throughout their set. Moosh’s effortless delivery was a great compliment to Twist’s distinct rugged flow, and they had hands waving as this marked the beginning of their summer tour. Day 2 introduced West Philadelphia's Chill Moody to a larger audience.He was joined by his band, with whom he’s built a reputable buzz in Philly. They packed the indoor stage, and like many of the other rising stars to perform, his energy reflected on the audience.
But the Roots Picnic was not only hip-hop artists, several other groundbreaking performers such as Flosstradamus, LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy, Diplo and Major Lazer put on memorable performances. Aside from a brief thunderstorm that led to a raving party for Diplo’s deejay set on the indoor stage that attracted the attention of ?uestlove, the weather permitted and made way for several once-in-a-lifetime moments and a full weekend of high-quality music performances.