Over the last couple of years the annual Roots Picnic in Philadelphia, PA has grown from being a local and regional event to become something of a key rival to Rock The Bells and Hot 97′s Summer Jam, as the Roots Picnic has increasingly featured a wild variety of artists in the genres of hip-hop, funk, soul, pop, electronica and even indie rock on a couple of stages at Penn’s Landing (which offers a beautiful view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and the Delaware River, by the way), as the event has become a day long festival, specifically tailored to music lovers, who want to catch a variety of music – and obviously, catch The Roots do their thing.
Interestingly, as the Roots Picnic has grown in reputation, attendees have come to expect The Roots’ headlining set to feature the Philadelphia crew collaborating with an equally beloved artist, and an array of artists, who manage to be unannounced until they actually appear on stage. I attended last year, and caught The Roots with Snoop Dogg, performing every single Snoop Dogg hit and a few beloved deeper cuts. But the legendary highlight – out of many, really – was catching Snoop and Doug E. Fresh collaborate on “Lodi Dodi” and couple of other classic Doug E. Fresh songs. This was followed by an appearance from Biz Markie, who did a raucous version of “Just A Friend.” Talk about mind-blowing, right?
Sadly, i wasn’t able to head down to Philly for this year’s Roots Picnic, and as you can imagine, it was especially disappointing since The Roots would be collaborating with the equally amazing Erykah Badu. Granted, I’ve seen both – I saw and shot Badu at Afropunk a few years ago; and I’ve seen The Roots on a number of occasions over the past few years; however, i’ve yet to see the both of them share a stage. As a few journalists and bloggers have already noted, after The Roots played some of their own material, they quickly became Badu’s backing band, starting off with “Window Seat” and “On and On,” before doing a 2002 song that Badu did with Common, “Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop),” which originally appeared on the Brown Sugar soundtrack. To many hip-hop heads, the song which won a Grammy for Best R&B song. is a familiar and beloved song – a song that they’ve also have heard countless times. So as you’ll see in this live footage, Badu and The Roots turn the song into a real ode to hip-hop, as this version references songs and artists across a number of decades and locales, including Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five’s “The Message,” Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.,” Snoop Dogg’s “Who Am I? (What’s My Name),” Nas’ “Made You Look,” but it also included guest appearances by Freeway, who did “Roc Da Mic;” YG, who went all West Coast on everyone; and The Lox, who did “Money Power, Respect” before ending with the song they all started with. It’s a worthy and loving look at hip-hop in its entirety, so go and check it.