Roots Picnic Day 2 Highlights: Black Thought, Alicia Keys, Wu-Tang Clan & More
The second day of musical festivities at the Roots Picnic in New York's Bryant Park was a hip-hop paradise.
From rising stars like Lil Uzi Vert jumping into his crowd to legends popping up for Black Thought’s mixtape set, Sunday (Oct. 2) closed out the festival weekend with a bang. Below are the highlights.
EPMD Represented for the Old School
Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith linked up for an epic set, celebrating their 30 years in the game. EPMD made sure to perform all of their timeless records, including 1988's "You Gots To Chill" and 1992's "The Crossover.” Erick wasn’t shy about taking some light shots at today’s rappers as he candidly told the crowd, “Hip-hop is supposed to be like this.” He continued, “That Louie Vuitton belt ain’t gonna rap for them.” After giving DJ Diamond a break to show off some of his outstanding skills on the turntables, EPMD closed out their set with tributes to some of the genre's lost ones such as Phife Dawg and Notorious B.I.G.
Lil Uzi Vert Turned Up
Uzi followed EPMD, swiftly transitioning from old school to new school. The Philadelphia rapper’s DJ kicked off the performance, saying, "Shout out to EPMD. We’re in a new era," perhaps a response to Sermon's comments. Uzi hit the stage, rocking blue hair as his girlfriend, Brittany Byrd, stood on stage watching. For his hit track "Money Longer," Uzi jumped into the crowd. As he stood up on the gates, he performed his featured verse on Carnage’s "WDYW," as well as the fan favorite "You Was Right." Uzi then offered, “Hey, I f--ks with the old people, too" before launching into his verse on DJ Esco’s "Too Much Sauce."
Swizz Beats Provided the Classics
The veteran producer rocked the crowds both behind the turntables and in front of the mic for his set. Running through some of his biggest productions for artists like Jay Z, Drake and Kanye West, Swizzy also paid homage to his own smashes. As his two sons, KJ and Egypt, hyped the crowd on stage standing next to him, the master beatsmith went through tracks like "It’s Like That," "Money In The Bank," "Who’s Real" and “It’s Me Bitches.” Adorably enough, Swizz revealed that his sons were on stage so that they could "see their dad get love from New York," as they were on their way to soccer practice. The soccer dad was on double duty, but the city was more than excited about the results.
Black Thought Hosted a Party of Legends
Despite being on the smaller Sixth Avenue stage, Black Thought’s set was anything but miniscule on the bill. As he went through his “love letter to New York,” creating a live mixtape, The Roots MC brought out legend after legend to spit impeccable bars with him. The first surprise was Kool G Rap, who proved why the OGs are still so important to the art of rhyming as he performed "Ill Street Blues." Thought then invited Detroit’s Royce Da 5’9” to represent for the Midwest on the East Coast stage.
The Picnic might have been in New York, but Black Thought made sure his hometown of Philadelphia was heavily represented as he brought out Freeway to perform the Roc-A-Fella classic “What We Do.” Next up was Smif-N-Wessun, who tore up the audience with their classic track "Buckdown." While huge names in rap touched the stage, the biggest crowd reception went to Pharaoh Monch, who rhymed over his powerful "Simon Says" beat. The last surprise came with the iconic Big Daddy Kane, who blessed the stage and performed his hit "Ain’t No Half Steppin’." Fans even got to witness all of these legends on one stage together, rapping for a complete cypher.
Nile Rodgers Brought the Nostalgia
Following an incredible set by DJ Jazzy Jeff and performance by Trombone Shorty, who surprised concert-goers with an appearance from Mystikal, David Byrne set the tone for Nile Rodgers, who emerged around 8:30 P.M. and brought fans back into the era of funk and disco. Going through his own hits, as well as the ones he wrote and produced for others, everyone was on their feet dancing so songs like "Freak Out,” “I Want Your Love” and “We Are Family."
Rodgers also shared the story of how he came to work with Daft Punk on “Get Lucky” with Pharrell after finding out he was cancer free. Additionally, his backup singers became shining stars as they sang along to Diana Ross’ "I’m Coming Up" and "Good Times." The Sugarhill Gang also performed their version of "Rapper's Delight."
Alicia Keys Put the Crowd in Their Feelings
A surprise set from Alicia Keys was the perfect way to calm some of the impatient Wu-Tang fans anticipating the Clan's long-awaited set. The makeup-free singer went through multiple hits, including "Sleeping With A Broken Heart" and "You Don’t Know My Name." At Questlove’s request, Alicia also performed "Teenage Love Affair" with her backup singers, before closing out to the infectious hit “No One."
Wu-Tang Clan Proved the Saga Will Never End
The Wu finally hit the stage after an enthusiastic introduction by comedienne Amy Schumer, where she told the crowd, "They’re known to cause a ruckus. They’ve mingled in the gravel pit." The Clan opened their set with the classic 1997 track “Triumph.” Immediately after, they transitioned into their most well known hit "C.R.E.A.M.” as the audience rapped right along. Each member got their own time to shine as they ran through some solo joints: Raekwon brought back major '90s nostalgia with his performance of “Ice Cream,” which, of course, brought out Method Man’s signature hook. The Staten Island MC also got perform his own track, “Method Man,” with the rest of the Clan. The best surprise, however, came when Meth started up “Da Rockwilder” and Redman unexpectedly appeared on stage. The Clan returned for the final track, closing with a performance of “Protect Ya Neck."