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Live Review – The Roots @ Taste Of Chicago

| July 8, 2016
June 11 - (1) The Roots 2

The Roots, 2016


The Roots, Donnie Trumpet With Chance The Rapper
Taste of Chicago, Petrillo Band Shell

Take a pill, Pitchfork. Fans of cutting edge grooves crowded into Grant Park to hear the Taste of Chicago’s opening night concert featuring a monster line-up of hip hop icons The Roots and Chicago alt-hip hop heroes Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment with a “surprise” appearance by masterful local MC Chance The Rapper. Chance wasn’t listed on the billing but the word got out to the point that his guest feature was as anticipated as his just released, acclaimed Coloring Book album. A dizzying display of musicianship, from Black Thought’s machete-sharp rhymes, to the  non-stop live instrumentation that filled the stage, made the Petrillo Band Shell the place to realize all musical dreams on Wednesday night.

If your only familiarity with Philly’s legendary Roots crew as the house band on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, they quickly established exactly where they stand on the ever shifting plane of hip hop stardom. Strolling on with little fanfare, Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter sliced through classics like “ Break You Off,” “Game Theory,” “The Show,” “Proceed” and “ Seeds 2.0”  weaving his lyricism in between the slinky rhythms of the seven-piece band with such finesse  that he inspired not just head nods but bows.   Then there was the crack instrumentals that  blended  Kool & The Gang’s “Jungle Boogie”  with an ode to their hometown with “Rocky’s Theme,” before slipping into a Prince tribute with “Raspberry Beret,” “Erotic City,” “Kiss” and “Let’s Go Crazy.”

To add to the feverish mood,“Empire” star Jussie Smollett stepped out to do the Erykah Badu vocal for a sublime “You Got Me,”  with co-star Taraji P. Henson offering a few moves center stage.  Topping it all off,  Captain Kirk “the street assassin” served scorching guitar riffs that melded the unlikely melodies of Drake’s ”Hotline Bling,” Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come, Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine” with Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up.”  If the temperatures weren’t already thick with humidity, the crowd would have still been sweaty with excitement from such a lit show.

Opening Act, Nico “ Donnie Trumpet” Segal, stepped out in rakish tailcoat over a striped tee surrounded by the white-clad Social Experiment  and the spectacle continued from there. Launching into rambling instrumental versions of tunes from last year’s ;Surf” mixtape, the musician played “Wanna Be Cool” ‘Go” and “Slip Slide” with laid-back enthusiasm but tension floated through the set as anticipation for Chance The Rapper grew.

Another up-and-comer, Joey Purp, performed serviceable raps on “Girls and “Cornerstone”  but it wasn’t until midway through the show that Chance The Rapper walked out and the show really turned up. With his signature White Sox hat pulled low, the Chicago rapper tore into “No Problem” over  wild cheers. Chance showcased his skill at pairing uplifting  lyrics with charged imagery with “Blessings” –  “Jesus’ black life ain’t matter/I know/ I talk to his daddy.”  Poet and singer Jamila Woods came out to sing the hook, supplying a gospel-feel with her urgent vocals. Chance then rapped  a ferocious rendition of “Ultra Light Beam” from Kanye West’s “ The Life of Pablo, before Donnie called for a moment of silence for Alton Serling, the black man murdered by a police officer  in Louisiana this week. He offered solace through music to address this country’s heightened violence and injustice and Chance’s enlightened ‘Sunday Candy” seemed to do just that, if only for the moment.

– Rosalind Cummings-Yates

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Category: Live Reviews, Stage Buzz, Weekly

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