The Roots have been ambassadors for Philadelphia in Hip-Hop and world culture overall since hitting the scene with 1993 debut Organix!. The City of Brotherly Love recently implored a bit of reciprocity to the hometown heroes by dedicating a mural to them in their honor on the corner of Broad Street and South Street.
Mayor Michael Nutter and Mural Arts director Jane Golden introduced the band at a ceremony full of onlookers and press. “This is about social practice, it’s about transformation of individual and community,” Golden said.
Consider the painting to be a gift for the group’s contribution to the World Communications Charter School (on which the mural sits) via their Roots 101 curriculum. Amber Art & Design artists Ernel Martinez, Charles Barbin, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, Willis “Nomo” Humphey and Keir Johnston painted the artistic piece.
“It hits close to home for me that this is in South Philly,” said lead MC Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter referring to his old stomping grounds. As we know, Thought and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s accomplishments have expanded tenfold since their days roaming the halls at Creative and Performing Arts high school. The latter joked about how he “used to walk around the streets of Philadelphia wondering ‘Where is my mural?'”
When the laughter subsided, the funky drummer admitted, “All we ever wanted was to make Philadelphia proud of us. It’s an honor.” If never before, it’s clear that The Roots have succeeded.
The Grammy-winning collective recently held the 6th annual Roots Picnic at the Festival Pier. See photos from the unveiling in the gallery below.
Photo: Colin Kerrigan/Philly.com