Eight things we loved about the new and improved Roots Picnic (and three things we didn’t)

The Roots | photo by Ben Wong for WXPN |

For the twelfth year running, Philly icons and global hip-hop heroes The Roots brought their pre-summer throwdown back to their hometown. The Roots Picnic touched down in its new home at The Mann Center at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 1st, with rap-soul duo &More opening a day of sun, sounds, and multi-sensory experiences, all the way up to the show-stopping performance of The Roots’ breakout album Things Fall Apart, which turned 20 in February. The Key was on hand from bottom to top, and here is what we saw all day — beginning with the immense amount of stuff there was to love. Continue reading →


Ari Lennox’s early 00s throwbacks are not to be missed at Roots Picnic

Ari Lennox | via

Despite being signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville Records, Ari Lennox is still a relatively new face in the R&B scene, but one that is quickly gaining traction. The D.C. native Lennox released her first full-length album Shea Butter Baby on May 7th, featuring artists like J. Cole and JID.

Having no prior taste of fame, her lyrics are all too relatable and raw. In “New Apartment” she sings, “I just got a new apartment / I’m gonna leave the floor wet” because without roommates, “nobody can tell me shit.” In “Broke,” Ari, and JID discuss the dynamic of a relationship confined by being “broke.” They mention riding Amtrak and the shared experience of trying to rise above poverty. Her sultry, early 2000s esque R&B sound combined with the qualms of being a millennial is exceedingly fresh. In “I Been,” she discusses having the worst luck on Tinder and smoking purple haze. Continue reading →


Your Roots Picnic set times are here!


To fully appreciate the schedule for this weekend’s Roots Picnic, a map is in order. Unlike years past at the relatively self-contained Festival Pier, the festival’s glorious new home stretches across the expanse of The Mann Center grounds. The most intriguing part, though? The Mann’s main stage (labeled Mann Stage in the set times) is not the “main stage.” Continue reading →


The Roots are performing Things Fall Apart at The Roots Picnic this year (plus Raphael Saadiq, Tank & The Bangas, Yasiin Bey, &More, and more)

The Roots @ The 9th Annual Roots Picnic | photo by Wendy McCardle

Beloved Philly hip-hop trailblazers The Roots are moving across town this year. After a decade at the Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing, the annual Questlove-curated Roots Picnic has found a greener and more spacious home in West Philadelphia’s Mann Center for the Performing Arts. As Quest wrote on Instagram, “finally we have GRASS to have a real picnic!”

The festival is set for Saturday, June 1st, and the band is using the occasion to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its breakthrough album Things Fall Apart by performing it in full…though, since this is The Roots we’re talking about here, don’t expect a note-for-not recreation. Continue reading →


Your Roots Picnic set times for 2018 are here!


Get ready for a jam-packed day of music, kicking off at noon with Zahsosaa and going till who knows when as The Roots jam into the night with Dave Chappelle2 ChainzBrandy and more. See you at the #RootsPicnic!


Black Thought will drop a new mixtape on Roots Picnic eve

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

The Roots’ founding member Black Thought announced the release date for his upcoming mixtape after teasing the project earlier this year. Titled Streams of Thought Vol. 1, the mixtape drops Friday June 1, conveniently the day before the Roots Picnic. Announced via twitter Friday, the tape is set to be a collab between Black Thought and super producer 9th Wonder and The Soul Council.

The Roots hold court at their annual picnic, headlining their historically star-studded “Jam Session” which previously included stars such as Pharrell, Erykah Badu, Usher, Snoop Dogg, and, this year, Dave Chappelle. Black Thought also appears billed separately on the lineup, bringing back his live mixtape set with J. Period while sharing the stage with Fabolous and Jadakiss. (Maybe the set will see the debut of songs off Streams of Thought.) Continue reading →


The Week Ahead: Roots Picnic, Porchfest, Natalie Prass, Depeche Mode and more

The Roots at The 9th Annual Roots Picnic | photo by Wendy McCardle

No superstition here — this week we’ve got 13 concerts for you to see around the Philadelphia area, major festivals and basement shows alike. Start things off tonight on Lancaster Avenue, where if you time things correctly, you’ll be able to see three different gigs in one shot. Dive in Continue reading →