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Six artists to watch at the 7th Annual Roots Picnic

Photo of Rudimental at Made In America by Dana Distortion via http://www.spin.com/gallery/made-in-america-fest-2013-spins-best-live-photos/
Photo of Rudimental at Made In America by Dana Distortion via http://www.spin.com/gallery/made-in-america-fest-2013-spins-best-live-photos/

Stories of old gigs from The Roots are the stuff of legend around Philadelphia. Throw a stone and you’re bound to hit a Gen-X music lover with memories (perhaps false ones) of surprise shows at now-defunct Old City venues and happenstance Questlove sightings at Northern Liberties brunch spots. These stories might be all that is left of a bygone era in which The Roots helped shape the sonic and ideological imprint of left-of-center hip-hop culture, all the while centering it in a series of extinct local hot spots.

Well, not all that’s left. They may have abandoned a rigorous touring regimen for late night glory, but Quest and co. remain committed to creating awesome moments of cross-genre delight and enlightenment for Philadelphians of all stripes. The clearest definition of this mission statement – one which has followed them into numerous genre-bending albums and collaborations – is the annual Roots Picnic, the 7th installment of which goes down at Festival Pier this Saturday. Few festivals pack such an eclectic and kinetic punch in a small, relatively inexpensive experience. While this year’s lineup is one of its strongest yet, we here at The Key have our eye on a few artists (including some lesser-known ones) who have had especially fascinating years and promise tremendous sets on Saturday.

The Roots

At the risk of sounding obvious, we’ll say that any set from The Roots is bound to set the mood for a day of gleeful head-nodding. Their reputation as a live act, honed through nearly two decades of constant touring and five years of sequence-scoring for Jimmy Fallon, is well-established. With the recent release of the excellent …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin, the band also promises to deliver some searing live renditions of their epic new material.

Janelle Monáe

The first Made in America festival got a lot of mixed reviews from local concertgoers who were mired in large-scale and largely acceptable skepticism about how a festival of that scale would play out on the Parkway. Unanimous praise was saved, however, for Janelle Monáe’s classic soul-rooted, futuristically-oriented brand of music. After near-unanimous praise for her latest album, 2013’s The Electric Lady, the aptly named Electric Lady promises a solid set of fanciful festivity.

The War on Drugs

At least one prominent Roots Picnic slot is reserved for a buzzworthy indie act who, like The Roots, looks to bridge aesthetic boundaries instead of reinforcing them. Philly’s own The War on Drugs, riding on the success of this year’s acclaimed and dreamscape-y Lost in the Dream, fill big shoes left by genre benders like Vampire Weekend and TV on the Radio. But if their unique take on shoegaze-meets-Americana has a perfect home anywhere, it’s at an open air concert along their hometown’s emblematic waterfront.

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Jhene Aiko, playing Roots Picnic, shares an understated beautiful new song, “My Afternoon Dream”

Photo via facebook.com/jheneaiko
Photo via facebook.com/jheneaiko
To celebrate her 26th birthday, Jhene Aiko shared a video for the understated melodic beauty of a new song, “My Afternoon Dream.” Much like her friend and collaborator Drake, she too learned that working with the negatives (literally) can make for better pictures. Filmed on a beach in Maui, the negative color muting effect is used in the entire clip where we see waves bathing the shores as Aiko’s daughter – the subject of the song – frolics through the sand while her mother softly sings: “Don’t wake me up ’cause I’m in love with all that you are / You make me see the truth in things, I think that you are / The remedy for everything it seems that you are”. With a successful EP under her belt, Jhene Aiko is set to release her debut album Souled Out later this year and perform at this year’s Roots Picnic on May 31st alongside Snoop Dogg, Janelle Monae, Chill Moody and many more. Get tickets here.

Jhené Aiko “My Afternoon Dream” from Jhené Aiko on Vimeo.

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Snoop Dogg, Janelle Monae, The War on Drugs and Chill Moody top The Roots 7th annual Roots Picnic lineup

Now in its 7th year, The Roots Picinic will bring an eclectic array of music to Festival Pier on May 31, and the band today revealed everything you need to know about this year’s installment.

The year the legendary hip-hop crew will share the stage with Snoop Dogg (backed by The Roots), as well as Janelle Monáe, Action Bronson, A$AP Ferg, araabMUZIK, The War On Drugs, Rudimental, Jhené Aiko, Biz Markie (DJ Set), Bad Rabbits, Electric Wire Hustle, Chill Moody, Emily Wells, Roman GianArthur & more.

Get tickets when they go onsale this Friday at 10 a.m. on Ticketmaster and watch a few of the latest clips from acts on this year’s incredible lineup below.

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