On Saturday, June 1st, The Roots will celebrate their 12th Annual Roots Picnic. After spending the first eleven iterations of the Picnic at Festival Pier, an open-air concert venue with imported sand (it’s a strange combination), the Roots are off to greener pastures, as the 12th annual Picnic will be held at The Mann Center located in Fairmount Park. In comparison to Festival Pier, Fairmount Park offers a much needed increase in space, and also has the added benefit of grass, and the Philadelphia Skyline in the distance. Having started off as a relatively small music festival, the Picnic has become a go-to festival for music lovers, growing substantially with each year, becoming a staple of summer festivals.
In a world where summer music festivals have become oversaturated, The Roots have managed to rise above the fray, and even grow. In large part, the success from the Roots Picnic comes from their willingness to be a niche, Hip-Hop festival, while also exploring the range of Black American Music. This year’s lineup features a range of artists that represent what the festival is, and has become. For the third straight year, Black Thought & J. Period will host their live mixtape, an ode to Hip-Hop, DJs, and the tradition of freestyling. In previous years, the mixtape has featured Mobb Deep (RIP Prodigy), Fat Joe, and Scott Storch. This year’s live mixtape will feature Yasiin Bey. The festival also includes a range of younger acts that have had recent success such as, Lil Baby, Davido, Blueface, and City Girls, ultimately drawing a younger audience. In addition to music, festivals have also become prime real estate for podcasting. This year’s Picnic includes some of the most exciting voices in podcasting with The Jode Budden Podcast, The Read, and Questlove’s podcast.
The Roots, their sound, and to a larger extent, Philadelphia, have played an instrumental role in the development of what became the “neo-soul” movement. Blending Hip-Hop with 70s jazz and funk, neo-soul’s legacy has been long lasting. In the years since the movement, we are able to see artists take that sound and make it their own. With the likes of Ari Lennox, Moonchild, Tank and the Bangas, and H.E.R. performing, each artist has taken the legacy of the movement and adapted it for themselves. It’s only fitting that these artists perform at the Picnic. Finally, on the main stage headlining the Picnic, The Roots are slated to perform their album, Things Fall Apart in its entirety, which I’m sure will have its list of guest appearances. All things considered, it looks like this year’s Picnic will be one for the ages!