Your guide to Philly's diverse creative scene, nightlife, music, food & more
The Made in Philly concert made it evident that there has definitely been a resurgence of artistry here in Philadelphia. It seems that there has been a calm waiting to see who will be the next big name in music from this area, and this show made it clear that it won’t be long.
I made my way to The Blockley to check out the sizeable lineup put together by DJ Aktive and Earl Chandler LLC.
Alliance was the backing band for the evening, and DJ Aktive played host and also dipped behind the turntables every now and again. DJ R to DA IZZA held it down in between.
There was a wide array of music from hip-hop to R&B to pop, everyone came out and gave everything almost to say, we deserve next! Bamboo caught my attention with his soulful vibe and reminded me of the last booming era in Philly music that birthed Jill Scott, Kindred the Family Soul, and many more. His song “Good Vibrations” had me singing along!
Frenchie gave a high energy performance as she sang and danced her way into the hearts of the audience members who were rocking alongside her. She even did a body popping, hair whipping dance number to Ciara’s “I’m Out” featuring Nicki Minaj.
I was excited to see MPrynt hit the stage and from their intro with the hook from “Holy Grail” they had everyone paying attention. Great harmonies and stage presence, these guys were definitely a crowd favorite. Phoenix gave a sultry performance ending with a super-charged rendition of "1+1" by Beyoncé, and Jade Alston made her first return to the stage after being diagnosed with a heart condition, which prevented her from performing most of the summer.
There were also rapid fire lyrics and hard-hitting production in performances by Ape Gang, R.I.C.H. Club and Asia Sparks, who closed the show and tore the stage down.
Many artists came out just in support including Marsha Ambrosius, Beano, Man-Man, and more. I think it’s safe to say that the performers were saying to this city and everyone else that they deserve a spot on the world’s stage.
Watch the video below.
Here's some never before seen footage from this year's Roots Picnic that was too good for us not to share with you. When we were backstage at the Picnic, our friend Laiya St.Clair of Hot 107.9 ended up getting an exclusive of Marsha Ambrosius interviewing Robert Glasper in our Philly 360° Twenty Grand Lounge.
Watch it here.
Luke James: Beyonce hand-picked him as the opening act for her tour. He was nominated for a GRAMMY before his album came out. And, we've loved catching his shows when he's performed in Philly.
So, when the talented R&B singer and Def Jam artist was in town for the Mrs. Carter World Tour, we were hype to sit down with him for an interview. He stopped through The Lab Philly with Philly's own Moshay LaRen.
See what he has to say about recording with Jazmine Sullivan, his music and of course, Philly. Plus, the singer hit us with a few vocals. Watch the video below.
The Roots’ camp brought us two days packed with events to celebrate Independence Day in Philly. They kicked off the party with “The City”, an all-day music and fashion festival at The Piazza in Northern Liberties, hosted by Hot 107.9 radio personality and Fox 29 Entertainment correspondent Q-Deezy and Philly 360° Creative Ambassador Brandon Pankey.
Many of Philly's up and comers took the stage and showed off why Philly is a city known for its music scene - including Interscope Records’ Cody Wise, Modern Inventors, Bok Nero, headliner GoGo Morrow and more. RCA Records recording artist Sterling Simms even surprised the crowd when he hit the stage for an impromtu performance. See the full breakdown of who performed here.
In between music sets, festival goers were treated to runway shows from Philly Fashion Week designers.
And of course, vendors lined The Piazza to give the crowd a taste of Philly including Kings Rule Together, Jr. Music Exec, Neo Daviso, These Pink Lips, Blues Babe Foundation, Anbrea's and more.
Check out the video below to see how the Philly Fourth of July Jam got kicked off.
Last year, Philly became home to another first, as Philly 360° Creative Ambassaor Maori Karmael Holmes successfully launched the inaugural BlackStar Film Festival. People from around the country gathered in Philly to experience the wonder of black cinema, and Ebony even hailed the event as Philly's own "Black Sundance". #bigwin
Next month, we're hype to announce that BlackStar is returning—bigger and better than before. Philly 360° caught up with Maori for an exclusive interview, just as she and her powerhouse team are putting the finishing touches on this year's festivities. Maori gives us the inside scoop on the festival venues, can't-miss films, and her three favorite black films of all time!
You can checkout our insider interview with Maori below. Also, be sure to visit blackstarfest.org to view the full festival line-up, and purchase tickets online today!
Philly 360°: BlackStar is back for its second year, and was recently hailed as "TheBlack Sundance" by Ebony Magazine. That's amazing! How rewarding is it to create this platform for black cinema here in Philly?
Maori: Creating BlackStar was by accident, but a wondrous accident. Producing it has been amazing for me personally and professionally. I continue to meet and connect with awesome folks in Philadelphia and beyond who care deeply about promoting the work of folks of color.
Philly 360°: Well, Philly is definitely buzzing about this year's festival, and most certainly showed up in mass for last year's festival. What do you love most about presenting BlackStar here in Philly?
Maori: That's exciting to hear that there's a buzz. It feels really good. Philadelphia is the home of so many "firsts" in American history and this idea of independence and a DIY/indie aesthetic is in our bones, so in many ways there is no other place that could house a festival like ours. The ourpouring of support from community partners, sponsors, and audience is tremendous and we feel so much love and gratitude.
I am also really excited about having a niche neighborhood festival primarily in University City. You will be able to walk from City Tap House to Drexel and International House and the Sheraton and back in under 5 minutes. It is really cool to be set up in that way.
Philly 360°: Can you give us the big picture view on this year's festival? How many films are you presenting? And, are there any exciting new programs or events this year?
Maori: We have basically doubled in size. We are presenting 75 films in three venues. We have a screenplay competition with a $2,500 cash prize and we have an awards ceremony and for the first time an awards competition including audience awards. As part of our awards we are honoring the Howard University film program.
Philly 360°: Tell us about the venues for this year's festival - any exciting new places or partnerships?
Maori: International House of Philadelphia is one of the best places to see film in the city. The screen, projection, and audio, as well as their staff are top-notch and amazing to work with. They will continue to be our festival hub. We have an additional site at Drexel University through our new partnership with the Africana Studies Program, as well we are presenting a program at The Barnes Foundation and hosting an opening night reception at City Tap House.
Philly 360°: Okay, I know you and the Blackstar team have curated an amazing line-up of black films this year. If you had to give us a few highlights, or not-to-be-missed movies—what would they be?
Maori: Did I say there were 75 films?!! Some of our highlights are our evening features of course--Tey, Nairobi Halflife, Mother of George, and Question Bridge: Black Males. I am also really excited about the Arts Shorts at The Barnes and our Youth Program.
Philly 360°: The Brother From Another Planet (Re-contextualized) w/ Live Score at Johnny Brenda's sounds like an amazing experience. How did this concept come about? Who are the masterminds behind this genius production? Tell us!
Maori: King and I are friends (and in the same class of Philly 360° Creative Ambassadors). At a dinner party last year we came up with this idea to collaborate for the festival around a loose idea based on Afrofuturism. We wanted to do something at Johnny Brendas, another fantastic venue, and King came up with the remix event and enlisted his collaborators, Marlo Reynolds, Anthony Tidd, Jason Senk, and Damon Bennett.
Philly 360°: Any other special appearances this year? Notable filmmakers? Actors? Actresses?
Maori: We are excited to have lots of filmmakers this year. Notably Omari Hardwick (Things Never Said), Haile Gerima, Bradford Young (Mother of George), Andrew Dosonmu (Mother of George), Dennis Dortch (Black & Sexy TV), Numa Perrier (The Couple), Yolonda Ross (Yelling to the Sky), Tanya Wright (True Blood), Lisa Cortés (Precious), Tariq Trotter, Dorian Missick (Big Words), and Muhammida El Muhajjir (Hip Hop: The New World Order).
Philly 360°: Okay, let's end on a fun note As a filmmaker and Philly's reigning expert on black cinema name your top three black films of all time? The Wiz is a given right?Or, is that just me?
Maori: The Wiz is amazing and phenomenal in so many ways, but for me as a filmmaker, the top three black films that shaped me are--although that list could easily go on to 10 or 20. Eve's Bayou, Daughters of the Dust, and Sankofa.
Guess who has a pair of two-day passes to give away for Jay-Z's Made in America festival? You know we love to hook you up with tickets to the hottest shows happening in Philly. And, we couldn't not do a ticket giveaway for this, right?
So, you want to be at the two-day festival that will be taking over the Parkway on August 31-September 1? We've got you.
Enter for a chance to win a pair of two-day passes here. Contest ends August 21. Click here for the Official Rules.
The contest period had ended.
Saturday, August 31 - Sunday, September 1
Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Beyonce, nine inch nails, Queens of the Stone Age, Deadmau5, Phoenix, Calvin Harris, Empire of the Sun, Imagine Dragons, Wiz Khalifa, Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Miguel, Public Enemy, Solange, 2 Chainz, The Gaslight Anthem, A$AP Rocky, Walk the Moon, Nero, Wolfgang Gartner, Porter Robinson, Feed Me, Fitz & The Tantrums, Emeli Sande, Haim, TJR, Alunageorge, Gta, Rudimental, Robert Delong, Schoolboy Q, Ab Soul, Jay Rock, MORD FUSTANG, Jesse Rose, Red Light
And, check out what happened at last year's Made in America festival.
We were pretty excited when The Roots announced this year’s lineup for the annual Fourth of July Jam, but when we heard about the newest guest who would be joining the team, we couldn’t believe it. Get hype Philly!
Questlove and Black Thought were recently in for a surprise when Philly's own Kevin Hart unsuspectingly dropped in on them in their limo with an interesting request.
Watch it here:
Looks like we’ll be seeing the hilarious actor/comedian on the Parkway alongside John Mayer, J. Cole, Grace Potter, Jill Scott, Ne-Yo, Demi Lovato and The Roots.
Black Music Month kicks off tomorrow, and Philly is the place to be for it. You know we'll have you covered on everything going down for Black Music Month, but we thought we'd start off the month with breaking down the history of it first.
Did you know that Philly is the birthplace of Black Music Month? It was actually founded by some of Philly's own. Check out the history and videos below.
In 1979, legendary songwriter/producer and founder of Philadelphia International Records Kenny Gamble, along with broadcast executive Ed Wright, founded the Black Music Association, which established June as Black Music Month by decree from President Jimmy Carter.
In 2000, the United States government officially recognized Black Music Month after radio personality and celebrity media coach Dyana Williams and Congressman Chaka Fattah tirelessly pushed to get the African American Music Bill passed through legislation.
We caught up with Dyana, who is also fondly referred to as the “Mother of Black Music Month,” to get her to break down how Black Music Month came to be.
Watch the video below to see what she had to say.
Can't get enough of Black Music Month content? Last year Dyana, along with Radio One, put together an event in celebration of Black Music Month. Check out that video below too.
And, don't miss this year's Black Music Month event! We teamed up with BMI, Hot 107.9, Old School 100.3, Some of the hottest songwriters of our time will be there - Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, James Mtume, Pop Wansel, Oak Felder and The Phatboiz. Dyana and DJ Damage will be the hosts. Get details here.
This year's Roots Picnic is sure to go harder than ever. The sixth annual showcase is returning with an eclectic mix of some of the hottest artists in hip-hop, soul, jazz, blues and country. Get ready for swagged out performances by Gary Clark Jr., Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Trinidad Jame$, Solange and a show-stopping set with hip-hop legends Naughty By Nature backed by The Roots. The Roots Picnic is not just a show, it’s an experience. Make it a weekend to remember with this selections of things to do, places to stay and tips on where to catch a good grub. Whether you’re stopping through or call this your home, there’s plenty do.
Friday, May 31
11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
World Communications Charter School
512 S. Broad Street
If there’s one thing Philly is known for, it’s having a wide selection of murals across the city. So, it’s only right that the famous paintings highlight the city’s exceptional homegrown talent. Join The Roots crew to celebrate an all new mural created in their honor. Designed by Amber Art and Design featuring Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, the mural pays tribute to the world’s most well-known hip hop band, in the place where it all started.
Friday, May 31
Theater of the Living Arts
334 South St.
Need a dose of R&B? Check out Kelly Rowland and The Dream, as they bring their crooning skills to the TLA. Ms. Rowland is sure to kick things off with a sultry set of her hits and maybe a few new joints, while the The Dream debuts more tracks off his upcoming release, IV Play. Purchase your tickets now if you want to be in the building and rock out with both artists.
Saturday, June 1
Registration: 8:00 a.m.
Race: 9:00 a.m.
Harding Middle School
2000 Wakeling Street
Why not get in a quick workout before you hit up the weekend attractions? Join Black Thought of The Roots and the GrassROOTS Community Foundation for the First Annual ‘Roots, Rock, Run’ 5k community walk/run. The event supports the CHICKS health and wellness program for girls at Harding Middle School.
Saturday, June 1
Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing
Saturday, June 1
10:00 p.m. - 2:00 a.m.
1200 Callowhill Street
Jay-Z said it best: “after the show it’s the afterparty”. Get your fix of live music at the year’s Roots Picnic then head over to Underground Arts. The night will feature DJ Phsh, Questlove and other industry friends. Get your ticket asap! Space will be limited, so be sure to arrive early.
Saturday, June 1
Saturday, June 1
Show: 8:00 p.m.
Aftershow: 12am - 2am
38th & Chestnut Streets
The Roots aren’t the only ones bringing live performances to the city. If you’re not afraid to step outside the box when it comes to your music tastes, you won’t want to miss out on Pier Entertainment’s Spring Music Fest. The showcase offers five genres in one night, bringing together the top emerging artists in R&B, Rock, Soul, Pop and Country. Enjoy an eclectic night of music including artists such as by Zeek 'The Experience', NeJcion, Modern Colour, Jaremy Isaac & The Hangover, Halfro and Selina Carrera. Kick it up a notch with special VIP Passes, which include exclusive seating, catering, red carpet photos with the artists and of course a Swag Bag. Industry afterparty to follow immediately. Get your tickets here.
Sunday, June 2
2:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
The Dreaming Building [618 North Front Street]
Wind down your weekend with a little retail therapy, and check out the American Dreaming Pop-Up Mall. The popular shopping experience brings together the cities newest and brightest clothing, music and art entrepreneurs. With free admission, guests can peruse through an assortment of handmade accessories, vintage clothing, one-of-a-kind handbags, and more. The event brings together a great mix of the city's young artistic crowd and makes for great networking as well.
If you plan on staying a while, check out these cool places to lay your head in style:
433 Chestnut Street
Keep the night going on Hotel Monaco’s rooftop Stratus lounge, with one the best views in the city. Enjoy the modern renovation to this historical building, and get your money’s worth as you take in the fancy design and the hotel’s famous four-star amenities.
1421 Arch Street
Artistic and chic, take in the hotels abstract art and bold black-and-white look. Guestrooms are decked out in sleek furniture, with all the modern necessities such as iPod-docking stations and flat-screen TVs.
120 S 17th Street
Historic with up-to-date feel, Hotel Sofitel is a great spot to stay in the mix while having a peaceful place to crash. Right in the heart of Center City Philadelphia, the French inspired layout and dining options, can add a splash of culture to your stay.
We’ve got your cravings covered. Stop through these local diners and cafes to get in a quick bite to eat during your down time.
Three convenient locations (in Bella Vista, Fairmount and University City), offer a tasty brunch all day, every day. Get your favs like french toast, pancakes and yummy omlettes. Switch things up with polenta fries or tofu scramble.
A healthy take of soul food favorites, Green Soul Cafe offers “the bridge to better eating”. Take advantage of the free WiFi, and enjoy delicious smoothies, burgers, salads and soups.
Nothing tops homemade buttery biscuits. Get your fix along with the diner’s creative brunch and breakfast selections all served with a side of their renowned biscuits.
Get in a good grub at this chic urban diner known for it’s rooftop seating options. Try out their popular mid-day treats, such as the bananas foster belgian waffles or a turkey club with caramelized apple mayo.
I think everyone that attended The Roots Picnic last year remembers the epic thunder storm that rolled over Festival Pier during the second day of the Festival. However, an amazing experience came from it as everyone packed into the inside tent to check out Diplo! An all-out rave ensued.
One thing that music festivals most certainly bring you is an experience. Huddled next to tons of folks you don’t know, escaping the elements, while watching Diplo murder the turntables is something that could only happen at a festival. The Roots Picnic is definitely the kick-off to the summer festival series in Philly.
This year, we know that DJ Premier will be in the line-up and though drastically different from Diplo, I’m looking forward to it. And may we even see a DJ set from Ms. Solange? I’m just speculating here, I would love to see it, but I know she is also supporting a project.
Bottom line is, The Roots Picnic is never short of great DJs, great acts, and great experiences. Hopefully you will be on the water with us checking out Gary Clark, Jr., Naughty by Nature, Robert Glasper and many more!
Last year, Philly 360° had the opportunity to catch up with Diplo about his show stopping set. Check out what he had to say below.