The annual Roots Picnic turns 10 this spring, and organizers are bringing Pharrell, Solange, and Lil Wayne to Festival Pier on June 3 to celebrate. Tickets went on sale at noon Monday at rootspicnic.com.
For a decade, the annual picnic has driven local and national crowds to Philly to hear the best and brightest, old- and new-school hip-hop artists, some of whom (Snoop Dogg, Public Enemy, Usher in the past) get the rare opportunity to team with one of America’s finest, most dynamic live bands: The Roots.
“This definitely speaks to the staying power of The Roots and the uniqueness of the picnic as a good festival,” says Roots cofounder Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter. “Not many music festivals last, have a 10-year run, or hold such validity and stay consistently good and getting better.”
Pharrell Williams (Hidden Figures) will join The Roots, along with additional headliners such as nu-soul songstress Solange (Beyoncé’s sister), producer/bassist Thundercat, old-school rap legend Pete Rock, and British acid jazz DJ Gilles Petersen.
Two of the Roots Picnic events involve Black Thought alone. First, there is his annual, morning-of-the-concert Black Thought/Roots Rock 5K charity run for his GrassROOTS Community Foundation.
Then there is the Black Thought & J Period Live Mixtape showcase – an improvisational DJ/MC set developed in 2016 during The Roots’ first New York City picnic. “It was a big hit in New York,” says Trotter, "and now every time we do a picnic, just like my 5K, this live mixtape will be part of the proceedings."
The 2017 iteration of the Philly Roots Picnic just happens to be something special: a set to feature rappers Fat Joe and Mobb Deep, along with keyboardist-turned-mega-producer Scott Storch. “This is the official, original Roots reunion with Philly’s own Scott Storch,” says Trotter.
Storch famously got his start as a one-time member of The Roots in their early years (he played and cowrote tracks on The Roots' independent label debut, 1993’s Organix), who left the band by 1995 for fame, fortune, and the gossip pages. One of Storch’s first big tracks, “Lean Back," a 2004 smash with Fat Joe and Remy Ma, will get a live airing as part of Thought’s Live Mixtape, along with “many other surprise tracks and additional unannounced guests,” says Trotter. “That’s what makes a Roots Picnic great – the performances we have planned and the ones that just happen."
10th annual Roots Picnic line up:
Pharrell & The Roots
Lil Wayne a.k.a. Mixtape Weezy
Black Thought & J Period Live Mixtape featuring Fat Joe, Mobb Deep, Scott Storch
A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie
James Vincent McMorrow
Gilles Peterson featuring MC Earl Zinger
Tickets are on sale to the general public via Ticketmaster.com, Ticketmaster Outlets, LiveNation Box Office, or by phone at 800-745-3000.