This past weekend, The Roots celebrated Black Music month with their 11th annual all-day picnic and the 20th anniversary of the release of their debut album Things Fall Apart.
Held this year for the first time at the Fairmount Park (instead of on the south side of Philly), the sold-out crowd of more than 25,000 people rocked from noon until past midnight. This was definitely one for the most grown and sexy, chilled out, Black music festivals of the summer filled with the right amount of live Neo-soul performances, conversations, podcasts, and a slew of fashion-forward females expressing themselves in every which way possible.
Unfortunately, there was a small incident during the 21 Savage performance when a security guard shouted that someone had a gun, which was a false alarm. It caused a stampede where five people were treated by paramedics. Nonetheless, the picnic and the fun that followed went on without a hitch.
Some of the best stage performances were from guests that included H.E.R. who sang some of her favorite hits line “Could’ve Been,” and the emotional “Hard Place,” and Queen Naija, whose 2017 album became a hit without even having major record label support. Raphael Saadiq performed a powerful set including some of his greatest hits such as “Be Here,”and “Skyy, Can You Feel Me,” after Black Thought and Jasmin Bey (aka Mos Def) spit verses over their mix tape session. The night was complete with the 20th anniversary rendition of The Roots’ “Things Fall Apart” with special guests hitting the stage including Jill Scott and Common.
Even sponsors like Cricket Wireless got in on the fun by presenting a $50,000 check to local Play On Philly, an organization that sends local kids to music school at Temple University. These guys are playing clarinets, tenor horns and trombones, making their parents proud learning from the best musicians in Philadelphia.