From Noname to Pharrell, the 10th Annual Roots Picnic brings a star studded day to Festival Pier

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The Roots and Pharrell at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

This past weekend marked the 10th Anniversary of The Roots Picnic. Over the past decade, Black Thought, Questlove and the rest of the legendary Roots Crew have been curating one of the city’s biggest concerts which, since 2007, has featured acts such as A$AP Rocky, Erykah Badu, Santigold, DMX, and Anderson Paak just to name a few.

This year’s line up brought out Michael Kiwanuka, Thundercat, Kimbra, and PnB Rock for excellent performances with headlining sets from Solange and Pharrell, the latter of whom was backed by The Roots. Earlier in the day, Black Thought collaborated with DJ/producer J Period on a live mixtape, during which he brought out original Roots keyboard player Scott Storch, as well as Queensbridge hip-hop legends Mobb Deep. Rapper Lil Wayne was slated to play the festival but was removed from the lineup due to an undisclosed medical emergency. Despite that being a bit of a damper, an estimated crowd of 10,000 festivalgoers enjoyed the day-long show.

Noname at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

After the day opened with clubby Philly rapper Tunji Ige on the festival’s South Stage, Chicago rapper-singer Noname took to the North Stage, returning to the City of Brotherly Love after her sold-out show at World Cafe Live earlier this year. The crowd welcomed her spoken word-esque flow as she effortlessly bobbled across the stage while performing songs off her 2016 release, Telefone.

Despite being memed to oblivion this past year, 21 Savage did not come to play or to be laughed at during his performance on the South Stage. During his performance of Red Opps, 21 Savage bounded across the stage proclaiming “I’m on that Slaughter Gang shit, Murder Gang shit”

21 Savage at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Once Jeezy hopped on the North Stage, the crowd was reminded of his trap-centric mid-2000’s hood anthems. Between shouting out HBCU graduates and beautiful women, Jeezy performed a handful of classic tracks like “Soul Survivor” and “Got Getta.”

For this to be the 10 year anniversary of the Roots Picnic, one would think that there would be a bit more extravagance and energy. With the exception of Pharrell, there were few upbeat and high energy big names acts who are still making relevant music. Despite a spontaneous electric slide that broke out during the Gilles Peterson DJ set and an impromptu game of double dutch by the Planned Parenthood tent, the excitement for the day’s events seemed to be muted.

Solange at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Solange has been making a lot of beautiful noise over the past year due to the release of A Seat at the Table. The album has solidified itself as a black femme millennial classic. The love and support for her artistry was highlighted when she graced the South Stage late in the evening. Flanked in a red glow of light, with her, her band and backup dancers all wearing red, Solange sounded like an angel when crooning “this shit is for us.” Being the epitome of black girl magic that she is, on several occasions during her set, Solange fearlessly walked into the crowd and sang.

The Roots at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Pharrell‘s headlining performance was rightfully the highlight of the night. The world renowned producer/singer who was backed by The Roots performed N.E.R.D. classics like “Lapdance” and “Rockstar.” Every person who has banged out a beat on a lunchroom table was ecstatic when Pharrell brought out half of Clipse, Pusha T, to perform “Grinding.” The individuals who had no idea just how long Skateboard P has been producing, were in for a surprise when he brought the ladies of SWV to the stage to sing “Right Here” and “Use Your Heart.” Pharrell and The Roots capped off the night with one of the most iconic songs of the decade – “Happy.” The upbeat tune allowed the audience to finally let loose on the dance floor.

As always the festival was a good time and allowed Philadelphia’s to properly honor The Roots as the local legends they are. Below, check out photos from the day’s sets.

Tunji Igi at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
James Vincent McMorrow at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Michael Kiwanuka at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
PnB Rock at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Black Thought and J Period’s Live Mixtape at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Black Thought and Mobb Deep at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Thundercat at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Kimbra at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Questlove at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Pharrell at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
SWV and Pharrell at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Tyler the Creator and Pharrell at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
N.E.R.D. at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
N.O.R.E. and Pharrell at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Pusha T and Pharrell at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

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