Saturday 4 July 2020
Hip-hop by means of live musical instruments from an institution in the genre

The Roots are a hip-hop group like no other.

The legendary, award-winning hip-hop crew and arguably some of the hardest working musicians in the scene continue to break the mold 25 years after the band was founded.

The brainchild of childhood friends Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, The Roots began their career playing bucket drums and freestyling on the streets and competing with Boyz II Men for top honours at The Philadelphia High school for Creative and Performing Arts.

Named one of the greatest live acts of all time by Rolling Stone, their career has evolved to include a weekly gig as the house band for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (which has made them jukeboxingly versatile), hosting sold-out jam sessions across America, collaborating on new works for contemporary performance (Lincoln Center, BAM, Kimmel Center), and consistently churning out new quality albums.

The Roots have always been known as obsessive, deep-diving students of music. Questlove has even written books about soul, funk, hip-hop and more. Unsurprisingly, watching the Philadelphia heroes live in action is an education, in musicianship and showmanship.

They’re a must-see live act. They have always been a band fully equipped with live musical instruments, which breathes dynamic life into anything they play.

Employing sax, trumpet and tuba, the frantic eight-piece can feel like a cross between a funk-soul revue and an abstract jazz troupe. Questlove surveys proceedings from behind his drums like a benign ringmaster, and out front Black Front is spitting bars proving his worth after all these years (to think, they formed all the way back in 1987!).

Their sets often feel like one long, breathless jam (in a very,very good way!) – and often they mix their own originals with a medley of cover songs. And in the company of The Roots it seems like the most natural thing.

Expect a sprawling show in the company of The Roots when they return to Roskilde Festival.