For the past six years, the recordings of Nigerian multi-instrumentalist Fela Kuti have been reissued in a series of limited-edition vinyl box sets, curated by peers and fans including Questlove (2011’s volume 1), Ginger Baker (2012’s volume 2), and Brian Eno (2014’s volume 3).
The latest installment, Fela Kuti Vinyl Box Set 4, was just released this past Friday, and curator Erykah Badu took to the stage of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last night with her old buds, The Legendary Roots Crew, to perform a medley of Fela’s “Sorrow, Tears and Blood” — from the 1977 album of the same name, recorded with Afrika 70 — alongside her own “On and On” from 1997’s Baduizm. Continue reading →
The Legendary Roots Crew played an epic Tiny Desk Concert in DC over the weekend, and the whole place was bouncing. Most artists fill their slot at NPR with two or three songs, but The Roots were jamming out to one song, twelve minutes, eight people crammed behind the desk brass band style.
The song is a new one called “It Ain’t Fair,” and featured fellow Philly native Bilal on vocals for a performance of enormous proportions. A true ballad, it began quietly, with the drums and the tuba taking reigns on the rhythm. Then, in full force, the rest of the brass joined in, and it was electric. Bilal has a voice reminiscent of Prince, and I drew the connection instantly. So soulful and jumpy, he truly stole the show when he walked in a few minutes into the song. Continue reading →
The Roots gave a performance unlike anything they’ve ever done when they took the stage with The Dallas POPS Orchestra — and guests like keyboardist Erykah Badu, Robert Glasper, Chaka Kahn and more – to celebrate their Night of Symphonic Hip Hop concert at the Music Factory, and it was absolutely unreal. There were so many levels added to fan-favorite Roots songs with the help of a symphony to back them up, and this powerhouse band held nothing back. It was an enigmatic collaboration that we didn’t even know we needed. Watch the performance below. Continue reading →
For Atlanta-to-Philly rapper STS and multi-instrumentalist / producer Khari Mateen, combining their musical powers for epic results is no new phenomenon. It comes naturally to these extended Roots crew members, and this smooth easiness emanates from every fiber of their new track, “Better On A Sunday.”
With Mateen grounding the track in slow-tempo bluesiness through achey guitar twang and the soulful, steady chorus, STS peppers in texture as he raps verses in tribute to the everyday blue collar worker. Continue reading →
Two hundred and sixty three songs. The Roots have written and recorded 263 songs for their next album. Now, after we all take a moment to stare blankly in confused awe for a few seconds, I think this is the part where we plebeians who are not The Roots go and bow in grace and honor to the musical wizards that they are. Continue reading →
Jimmy Fallon is lucky to have The Roots as his house band for The Tonight Show. Pretty much every night he gets to hear the Philly legends, and for Monday’s episode, though, it was a little more amazing than usual.
The Roots had the musical performance to play out the night’s show. Their longtime collab partner and soulful wizard Bilal joined them with vocals of his own, as well as a sizeable orchestra, for a rendition of “It Ain’t Fair,” a song from the soundtrack of the new movie Detroit. I already wanted to see the movie. Now I absolutely have to. Continue reading →
It was a cool old-meets-new mashup on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last night as Phil Collins hooked up with The Roots for a rendition of the classic 80’s hit “In the Air Tonight.” Check it out below, and pay attention to Questlove’s take on the song’s iconic drumming. Continue reading →
Allright, I’m listening.
Late last night, Philly son, music historian and percussionist extraordinaire Questlove made an Instagram post announcing that The Legendary Roots Crew has commenced work on its 17th (!!) studio album, End Game. Continue reading →
Miley Cyrus recently appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, performing a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Baby I’m In The Mood For You.” Continue reading →