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Every once in a while you accidentally stumble on late night television performance that blows you away. This was my case last night watching Stephen Colbert’s Late Show last night when Anderson .Paak showed up on the screen.
The California-based R&B singer began with “Silicon Valley”: a jazzy “To Pimp A Butterfly”-influenced track adorned with electric guitars and smooth synths. After transitioning to the funky “The Season/Carry Me”, the performance really exploded once Paak got behind the drum kit to spit some bars and bust out a solo showing how multi-talented he really is. Continue reading →
Philadelphia heroes The Roots will return to Festival Pier on Penn’s Landing this summer for their ninth annual Roots Picnic, and joining them is their usual eclectic array of artists curated by the man with the ‘fro and the drumsticks, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson.
Of course the lineup, reported by Pitchfork and the cast of Broad City (watch the video below), features The Roots themselves in a headlining set, but they’ll be be backing 90s / aughties pop dynamo Usher in a set as well. Other high-profile appearances of note are soul-rock force of nature Leon Bridges, who’s been buzzing in the XPN universe for the better part of a year now (he’s headlining a sold-out show at The Fillmore this winter).
I predict peak cell-service outage will occur during Future‘s set, and there’s appearances from Cheltenham’s Lil’ Dicky in the mix as well, not to mention infectious Oakland singer Kehlani and (wha?) DMX. Continue reading →
There were lots of standout performances at this year’s Roots Picnic, which took place at Festival Pier on May 30th. One in particular that is gaining buzz in various corners of the web is Erykah Badu and The Roots‘ 20-minute hip-hop medley. The two music powerhouses teamed up to create a tribute to Grandmaster Flash, Snoop Dogg, Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, and more, and included their individual songs in the mix as well. Watch the performance below, and read our recap of the Picnic here. Continue reading →
Every year, the Roots Picnic inches closer to Philly musical utopia. The pre-summer day fest is curated by local hip-hop heroes The Roots, the self-proclaimed hardest working band in America. True to their own innovative and barrier-breaking approach, the lineup is always a unique, eclectic and interesting trip. The setting and its vibe has historically been a bit rockier, beset by exponentially swelling crowds and typically sweltering heat beating down on the minimally shaded asphalt of Festival Pier.
But the eighth annual installment of the Picnic yesterday, while not perfect, was a tremendously positive event, with major improvements in the layout and organization of the festival and a trimming of the musical fat (for the most part). Continue reading →
The eighth annual Roots Picnic will bring its eclectic, Questlove-curated lineup to the Festival Pier on Saturday, May 30th, and the lineup is, as usual, pretty damn exciting. In addition to a set from hometown heroes The Roots themselves, this year’s “old school guest” will be Erykah Badu – the progressive soul singer who notably sang the hook on The Roots’ 1999 hit “You Got Me” (and who The Roots earned their first Grammy with in 1998, for production on her album Baduizm). Continue reading →
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.
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.
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.
As we’re getting our sunscreen and stamina ready for The Roots Picnic on May 31st, we’re also gearing up for the release of …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin, the legendary Philly hip-hop band’s eleventh studio album. The record is out Tuesday, but you can get a sneak preview between now and then by checking out the album streaming in full over at Pitchfork Advance. We’re taking our first spin through right now, and it sounds like the album elegantly recorded and evocatively structured, with hints of everything from 20th century classical (atonal Philip Glass crescendos, what?) to trip-hop (Massive Attack moments) and dubstep (of the Deadmau5 sort) – and of course ?uestlove’s trademark big drum sound. Cousin boasts a freaking cavalcade of people who worked on it, too, including Philly crew The Wurxs, Dice Raw and Greg Porn (check out the full credit list here). The Roots Picnic – featuring The War on Drugs, Janelle Monae, Snoop Dogg and more – happens all day on May 31st at the Festival Pier at Penn’s landing, and tickets / info can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Below, check out the lyric video for “When The People Cheer.”
With his appearance at this year’s Roots Picnic just a few weeks away, it’s only right for Chill Moody to drop some fresh new fire. His new single “Concrete Jungle” features R&B singer/actor Mack Wilds on the chorus and it’s the perfect centerpiece that compliments Chill’s hard-hitting rhymes over the pulsating beat. You have to believe him when he raps: “I’m from the concrete you’ll find me right where talent and grind meet, ahead of the class with no assigned seats.” His work ethic, flow, and lyrical dexterity set him apart from the crowd on one of his best showings to date. Check it out below (see if you can catch the Freeway reference) and get tickets to Roots Picnic here.