Photography by Molly Rose (http://mollyrosephoto.com/)
The annual Roots Picnic has not just become a Philadelphia tradition, but one that brings some of the biggest acts in music to the city for a festival unlike no other.
With the star-studded concert comes a slew of after picnic events, and Saturday night’s Roots After Picnic Event at Lit Ultra Lounge paid respects not just to nationally-known stars like DJ Mustard, Black Thought and DJ Diamond Kuts, but many up-and-coming Philly hip-hop acts on the verge of great things.
For the Uptown-raised MC Lihtz Kamraz, reinvention and creativity are crucial parts of his creative process. “My sound is real unique: Versatile lyrics, flows, and melodies and soulfulness. With this next project, I’m taking my style to the next level. Up to now I’ve been known for melodic rap-singing. A lot of people have become too familiar with me using this style, so I have had to become an innovator. That’s the biggest reason why I’m calling this next project The Switch Up."
“I’m going to be innovating by switching my style up. At some point every artist wants to make the transition from being local to being national. Right now my focus is on continuing to “connect the dots.” What most people don’t realize is that an artist’s success is going to come down to resources as much as talent. I’m getting down with someone to hone my talent.”
Bok Nero’s experiences in seeing the world have allowed him to enjoy his music and its diverse listeners that much more. “[This Roots After Picnic show] is dope, so many different styles of music. This is more like a big party for me. I’m a DJ in a way. I cater to the crowd, and as a result, I perform to a party of a crowd.
“Coming from 21st and Dauphin and going to Northeast schools for all of my life, I want to inspire kids to be different. I lost three of my homies to street violence at the age of 15. The violence in the streets is not the answer. I just got back from Colombia and Tokyo, and it opened my eyes to the bigger world than my block in Philly.”
For North Philly artist MizzMusic, a future in music came through perseverance. “At 16 I did JobCorp, came back home for two summers straight and just stayed in the house honing my craft. That’s how I made it work.’” In addition, networking and feedback helped his music as well. "Doing the beat competitions and everything was cool, but being professional is so important. Be. Professional.”
Not all of the night’s up-and-coming Philly artists specialized in hip-hop. OKeefMusic, a Kingston, Jamaica native described his sound as “trip-hop, you have to feel it.” For OKeef, “Listeners can feel my experience through the music.”