Overall The Roots Jam Session series for 2015 has been nothing short of incredible. We are certainly biased but any way you look at it, congratulations are due to The Roots for a wildly successful 4-night run of Jams – we’re already looking forward to more! Every night was more insane than the last and Night 4 was the most packed, highest energy of them all. Apollonia returned, J-Lo was in the house, RZA was there, hanging with Craig Robinson and Adrian Younge. Rebbie Jackson came (with her son–who performed the other night, —Austin Brown). was there, Wilder Zoby (who played on the Run The Jewels 2 tour and is working with El-P on some production now for RTJ 3 ). Amber Coffman from Dirty Projectors was in the house. So was (original Black Eyed Pea) Kim Hill. Marsha Ambrosius was there. Zoe Kravitz’ band Lola Wolf played their poppy, romantic jams. Beautiful vocally and Zoe was gorgeous, of course.
The Roots, like each night, were super “on.” Tarik AKA Black Thought warmed it up James Brown-style, there were plenty of impromptu freestyles throughout the night and they frequently played old or rare songs not often in their regular set. They jammed too – often a real instrumental moment lead by Questlove, Cap’n Kirk, Ray Angry and James Poyser with Mark Kelley on bass. Surprises reigned supreme on the last night. The almighty QUEEN showed up – Queen Latifah! She graced the stage for a very short set but did a quick medley of hits mixed with some freestyles. Next, Nick Jonas performed “Jealous” with The Roots. People like that song . A lot. LeCrae gave a pretty great performance, ending with “Welcome to America.” People got hyped when Meek Mill joined ‘Rik on stage and Philly was fully represented. There was some nice freestyling there too.
Then Jamie Foxx came out. He didn’t really tell jokes – he was kind of just about to announce Kool & The Gang but they weren’t ready, so Tarik was like “I think they wanna hear you do something.” Jamie took “something” literally and started beatboxing, so then Tarik started rapping. It ended up being pretty cool, but still people kind of wished Jamie gave a bit more – maybe sang something or did some comedy but he’s clearly in the “we don’t get out of bed for less than $1m” category, so hey. Next, Kool & The Gang were fantastic. Check the Okayplayer instagram for their 3-song setlist (and a whole lot more than that, too). Super fun, the entire crowd was riding the wave of good energy, dancing, singing along – the whole room united. L.A. soul trio James Davis had a tough act to follow, but they did their thing and then Bilal came up and CRUSHED it. One of his bone-chilling, heart-stopping, what-the-fuck-just-happened type performances–but he only did 2 songs! He took it there though, especially on “Sometimes.” To continue on, Liv Warfield came up and somehow matched that same energy – her performance was wild. She’s the type of soul singer who’s really a modern day legend. Vocally, stylistically, she rocked the house down to the ground with every bit as crazy wild abandon mixed with incredible vocal control as Bilal did. What a terrific way to end 4 nights of joints and jams. Relive it all with the sick photos captured by Okayphotographer extraordinaire Mel D. Cole above–see you at the Grammys.