Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love. The Nation’s first Capital. The home of the Liberty Bell. The birthplace of the Philly cheesesteak and the hardest working band in show business, The Legendary Roots Crew.
On the way to the Eighth Annual Roots Picnic (May 30), I was greeted by these images and had a glimpse of a Philly I wasn’t aware of. The Realadelphia, a city trapped in the implosion of an industrial revolution, like the pictures sprawled across our televisions of the urban decay in Baltimore; working class homes separated from bellowing smoke stacks and chemical spewing industrial complexes by a thin stretch of Interstate 76.
The image of the brightly colored murals, and fenced in backyards stacked with satellite dishes warmed my heart to the fact that two high school buddies made it “out” of potential ghetto stardom to become legends bonded to Philladelphia like cheese on steak.
The Roots Picnic was a sea of ratchet geekdom, an oasis of high couture AfroPunk, a melding pot of drunken freedom and a sobering fanfest of conscientized bootyshaking. Or in simpler Philly terms, “That jawn was tight!”
The Roots have successfully thrown the coolest picnic in Pennsylvania for eight years and I believe it is exactly because the crew is all things to all people. One cannot help but respect them simply because this tightly knit family of kinsmen is true to the music, true to their hearts and in doing so have their finger on the intersection of our collective truths.
The square root of the band’s ability to crisscross genres, open doors to divergent worlds and still remain themselves is the ever presence of the most basic element community. Tariq and Amir, with the help of their family and crew, have been able to distill the zeitgeist of two kids in high school, rapping and making beats banging on the lunchroom counter in the cafeteria and allowed the rest of the world to sit at the cool kid’s table.
And now we can all sit at that table. Flip through to see the mini-fest and the many people it brought together through my eyes.
Photo Credit: iamsuede