The 11th Annual Roots Picnic took place on June 2, 2018, at Festival Pier in Philadelphia. The ambitious festival, curated by the Philadelphia hip-hop collective The Roots, featured Dave Chappelle, Lil Uzi Vert, 2Chainz, Fabolous, and Jadakiss, across five stages with special appearances by T.I. and Styles P. Unfortunately, after nearly 10 hours with tolerable weather, a thunderstorm decided to become the headliner of the show and brought a premature ending to the show.
During the DJ Drama presents Gangsta Grillz set on the north stage, T.I. surprised the crowd and performed hits like “Bring Em Out” and “Live Your Life” in what was certainly one of the highlights of the show. Another highlight was Black Thought and J. Period Live Mixtape featuring Fabolous and Jadakiss. The duo performed some of their classics as well as songs off their Friday on Elm Street album. The phenomenal Black Thought showed his amazing freestyle acumen by flowing over the tracks of Fab and Jada. They were also joined by Styles P, and the hip-hop foursome didn’t leave the stage without a dedication to Mobb Deep emcee Prodigy, who performed at the 10th Annual Roots Picnic shortly before his death.
Three of the five stages at the Roots Picnic featured musical performances, but there were two other stages, the Podcast Stage and the Gaming/Culture Stage that featured video game tournaments, podcasts, and panel discussions. Perhaps the highlight of those stages was the Barrier Breakers panel hosted by ESPN’s Jemele Hill featuring four Black women discussing their #blackgirlmagic of breaking barriers in the worlds of music, fitness and technology.
Other show highlights included The Diplomats, which turned out to be only Harlem emcee Cam’ron, because Juelz Santana is under house arrest and Jim Jones did not perform. Lil Uzi Vert also gave an energetic performance on the south stage.
With severe weather in the area, Dave Chappelle took the stage to introduce The Roots, and after they performed a few songs, Chappelle returned to the stage to introduce 2Chainz. But the Atlanta hip-hop artist did not perform one bar of one song, as the heavy rain arrived and the rest of the event was cancelled. I heard many wishing the show did not come to an end, but the next two hours saw a steady downpour combined with thunder and lighting. For the safety of the patrons, the right decision was made. A setlist of the end of the show surfaced online, and in addition to The Roots, Chappelle and 2Chainz, Brandy, Common, Busta Rhymes and MOP were scheduled to perform. If schedules allow, hopefully Dave Chappelle, 2Chainz and Brandy (who never got to take the stage) can return for the 12th annual Roots Picnic next June.