The Roots 4th Annual Grammy Jam Session

Artist: Concert ReviewTitle: The Roots 4th Annual Grammy Jam SessionRating: 4 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Octavia Bostick

The power behind a jam session comes from the adrenaline of energy poured into the instruments behind the soul force of its players; and when that force is brought forth from the Roots, it can’t help but to bear fruit. Straight from a “souled out” set at the Gibson Ampitheatre in Los Angeles, the Roots held their 4th Annual Jam Session at the Key Club during Grammy weekend. Hip-hop’s most organic live band drew a who’s who in entertainment to their environmentally correct green carpet affair. The jam session whose theme was the “Feed Your Roots” environmental campaign was not only good for the musical universe but the environment as well thanks to the compost bin that all who walked the green carpet were encouraged to sign.

When asked how the Jam Session’s came to be, the Roots acclaimed drummer stated “Well it started off as the ‘Anti Clive Davis Party’ because five years ago we couldn’t get invited, so we created our own party for ‘nobodies’ and now it’s grown into this.” Nobodyies if a far cry from the star-studded event that looked more like a precursor to the Grammy awards. Everyone came through to show some love. The show was so full of surprises it’s hard to say which was the highlight, but it was a jam session in every sense of the word. The show opened with the Family, which has only performed together three times in their 20 year career. Soon after, the Roots took the stage as if it were their first performance of the day. Black Thought was so fresh and so clean as he rocked the mic while ?uestlove beat the pick out of his hair. Of course the horn section brought it all home and kept the party going. Jurnee Smollet (Eve’s Bayou) co-hosted as Black Thought jumped in and out of sets. Chrissette Michelle (Jay-Z’s “Lost One,” Nas’ “Can’t Forget About You”) was anything but lost as she came out and did an amazing rendition of Alicia Key’s “If I Ain’t Got You”.

Although there was no method to the madness other than good music, the piece de resistance had to be when the incomparable Anita Baker let the music take over and got her groove on. Ms. Baker then invited India.Arie on stage with her to flex her flute freestyle skills. Speaking of skills, the rapper Skillz had the crowd ooh’ing and ahh’ing as some of the folks he cracked on in his 2006 Rap Up got to hear it live and in person. Talib Kweli got the crowd high as he performed a few cuts and Queen Latifah entered the cipher with a blast from the past, “U.N.I.T.Y.” The lead singer of Fall Out Boy jammed with “She’s a Bad Mamma Jamma” and other notables on the stage and/or in the crowd included Matisyahu, Jill Scott, Dave Chappelle, Common, the Black Eye Peas, Michaal Rappaport, Isaiah Washington, Brother J (X Clan), Karriem Riggins, Kwame and many more.

Class was definitely in session.

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