XPN MusicNotes: Watch Phil Collins jam with The Roots, hear Lady Gaga sing Carpool Karaoke, read about Neil Young’s new album

Phil Collins and Questlove | photo via NME

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 →


Usher and The Roots pay tribute to Prince at Roots Picnic

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

Ever since we lost Prince in mid-April, outpourings of adoration and tributes for the purple one have cropped up everywhere. From countless artists covering the songs that defined his career (and a generation) to mother nature herself shining a purple sunset following his passing, Prince is an artist that truly transcends his mortal being and lives on in every life he and his music touched.

What better place to pay homage to Prince than this year’s joyously soulful Roots Picnic, where his influence was surely felt — particularly during Usher and The Roots headlining set. Continue reading →


Roots Picnic was bigger and better than ever at Festival Pier

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

It’s hard to believe another Roots Picnic has come and gone. The feeling is particularly bittersweet this year, in post-Nutter Philadelphia, knowing that The Roots won’t be back next month, as they have for the past eight years, to headline the Welcome America Festival. But the Philly crew-turned-America’s house band certainly made the most of their annual homecoming. Here are some highlights of the day.

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Watch The Roots and D’Angelo perform a tribute to Phife Dawg

Last night, some of the giants of the hip-hop world paid their tributes to the late Phife Dawg, the talented rapper and founding member of A Tribe Called Quest who passed away last month due to complications from diabetes. The event, held at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, featured performances from The Roots and D’Angelo, as well as some moving speeches by Kanye West and Andre 3000. Continue reading →


The High Key Portrait Series: Reef The Lost Cauze & DJ Caliph-NOW


High Key” is a series of profiles conceived with the intent to tell the story of Philly’s diverse musical legacy by spotlighting individual artists in portrait photography, as well as with an interview focusing on the artist’s experience living, creating, and performing in this city. “High Key” will be featured in biweekly installments, as the series seeks to spotlight artists both individually and within the context of his or her respective group or artistic collective.

In the Summer of 2015, Spotify published a survey of 1000 cities internationally, analyzing some 20 billion tracks, and concluding that hip hop was the highest consumed genre of music worldwide. That’s maybe no surprise to its fans, especially in New York City and in Philly, the two cities where the genre was conceived and first took root in the late 1970s.

Philly’s own Sharif Lacey is better known as Reef The Lost Cauze. Together with friend and producer Todd McConnell, known onstage as DJ Caliph-NOW, Reef has earned his status as a prominent steward of that legacy.

Informed by influences as diverse as Killer Mike, to Jadakiss, to Phantogram, to local compatriots The Roots and the late Philly rapper Viro the Virus, Reef’s prolific catalog offers eclectic tastes of a full spectrum of hip hop’s evolution, including an upcoming release with producer DJ Bear-1 on the Soulspazm label that the rapper considers to be his “most accessible, most gutter record” to date. He notes, “I’ve never really done something that I think dudes that hustle in the streets of Philly would really fuck with, and [Furious Styles] is that record.” Continue reading →


Get a look inside last night’s star-studded Philadelphia Music Alliance Walk of Fame Gala at The Fillmore

Jimmy Fallon & The Roots - PMA Walk of Fame Gala | Photo by: Rich McKie
Jimmy Fallon & The Roots – PMA Walk of Fame Gala | Photo by: Rich McKie

For the first time in over two decades, the Philadelphia Music Alliance hosted a evening gala to celebrate its newest inductees at the new Fillmore last night.  Earlier in the day a ceremony was held to unveil their plaques, Hollywood Walk of Fame-style, in the Broad Street sidewalk along Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts on Broad Street. The gala, however, was a chance for some of the biggest names in Philly music history to fix up and look sharp to personally honor the new inductees. Continue reading →