The Roots are best known these days for backing up Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. But the Grammy-winning Hip-Hop band got there by touring nonstop and crafting hits like “What They Do” and “You Got Me.”
Now they’re taking their knowledge to PBS for the third episode of the PBS show Next at Kennedy Center. Their episode “The Roots Residency” airs Friday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. The Roots originated in their hometown of Philadelphia in the ‘90s. Like Stetsasonic before them, they combined Hip-Hop with a live band sound.
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Frontman Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, largely considered one of Hip-Hop’s greatest pure MCs and drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, who won an Oscar for his 2021 documentary Summer of Soul, recalibrated Hip-Hop to make it accessible to a wider audience. The group is the inaugural artist-in-residence at the Kennedy Center’s Hip Hop Culture program.
The Kennedy Center’s Hip Hop Culture program
The new series combines the work of the Kennedy Center’s contemporary culture program with the artists and music that reflect its sensibilities. The program combines a performance by the Roots at the center’s concert hall with interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.
“The Roots Residency” episode includes performances by Ezy Truth, a Washington, D.C.-based Hip-Hop artist who is a member of Black Thought’s School of Thought, and Durrand Bernarr, an R&B artist who participated in the Road to The Roots Picnic initiative. Singer/songwriter India Shawn also performs. Interviews include Questlove and the Rev. Al Sharpton discussing Quest’s latest book, Black Thought and photographer David Allen.
“The Roots have existed at the forefront of culture for over three decades. They are deeply committed to ensuring that generations of artists and communities see themselves powerfully reflected through their work and at venerable institutions like the Kennedy Center,” said Simone Eccleston, the Kennedy Center’s director of hip hop culture and contemporary music.”
“The Roots Residency is a testament to their capacity to not only change the lives of individuals but also to transform institutions,” she added.
“The impact of our partnership is that we are forever changed as an organization. Through their residency, The Roots have created powerful platforms for the celebration of multihyphenates, cultural leaders, and emerging artists. We hope that viewers experience their genius as performers, curators and cultural catalysts.”