NICK DANLAG – STAFF WRITER
Like many bands, The Roots first met in school. Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson were classmates at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts, and as they performed at school and locally, they added Josh “The Rubberband” Abrams.
“I always thought Black Thought had that real MC voice,” said Clifford Smith Jr., or Method Man, a member of the East Coast hip-hop collective Wu-Tang Clan, in an interview with Sways’ Universe. “He always switched it up. He never stuck to one groove. It was always something that kept your attention, even from verse to verse. Not to mention they all play well off of each other.”
The Roots, an American hip-hop and neo-soul band known for a jazzy and eclectic approach, currently has seven members and 11 former members, with a unique style that involves percussion, sousaphones, rapping and beatboxing.
The Roots will perform at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 21 in the Amphitheater with Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue.
Troy Andrew, whose stage name is Trombone Shorty, is a Grammy-nominated musician, producer and philanthropist from New Orleans. Orleans Avenue is his band. When he picked up a trombone that was larger than he was and joined a local parade in his neighborhood, Andrew said, he knew wanted to pursue music. He also said his inspiration came from his family and city.
“They didn’t just introduce me to the greats, they were the greats,” Andrew wrote on the Trombone Shorty Foundation website. “From my grandfather, Jessie Hill, who made R&B hits back in the day, to my cousin Herlin Riley, who played drums for Wynton Marsalis, my family gave me the inspiration and the tools to make New Orleans music.”
The song “Laveau Dirge No. 1” from his latest album, Parking Lot Symphony, is named after one of New Orleans’ famous voodoo queens. According to his website, it has “multitudes of sound — from brass band blare and deep-groove funk, to bluesy beauty and hip-hop/pop swagger — and plenty of emotion all anchored, of course, by stellar playing and the idea that, even in the toughest of times, as Andrews says, ‘Music brings unity.’ ”
And The Roots are one of the most respected and best known hip-hop groups in the industry, winning four Grammys, including Best R&B Album for Wake Up!, Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for “Hang On In There” with John Legend and Best Group or Duo R&B Vocal Performance for “Shine.” They are also currently the nightly band on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”