Nov 11, 2011

New Mural Project Celebrates Philly's Iconic Hip-hop Leaders: The Roots

by: Mary Kate O’Keefe

Palpable Philadelphia pride electrified Headhouse square Monday morning as a large audience sipped coffee and listened with excitement as Mayor Michael Nutter, Mural Arts Executive Director Jane Golden, and Philly’s own celebrated hip-hop trailblazers The Roots announced the program’s new – and possibly boldest—project to-date.

Recently rated by Travel + Leisure as number one in overall culture above any other American city, Philadelphia is home to an extensive amount of art in both private and public spaces, including more than 3,500 accessible murals, with yet another impressive addition on the way.

Philadelphians now have more reason than ever to root for their hometown, as two well-loved Philly institutions- The Roots and Mural Arts Philadelphia – come together to work on an ambitious eight-month project that will include a large-scale mural, pop-up studio, a “Roots 101” curriculum for youth, an online interaction component, and city-wide engagement through community paint days.

Monday’s press conference revealed that the mural will become a fixture along South Street (the stomping ground where Tarik “Black Thought” Trotter and Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson had their start in 1987.) Trotter and Roots keyboardist Kamal Grey represented the iconic band and spoke about the group’s humble beginnings, passion for innovation, and love for their native city.

GRAMMY® Award-winners and house band for “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” on NBC, The Roots have an extensive fan base around the world and are especially valued by Philadelphians. They have influenced countless artists for several generations, including Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, Mos Def, Jay-Z, Jill Scott, John Legend, Common and many more. The group has produced a staggering twelve albums with their latest record- Undun– slated for release on December 6, 2011.

An avid Roots supporter, Mayor Nutter even divulged that he often begins and ends his day by listening to their songs on his mp3 player. He said The Roots have been “kicking it” since their formation in the 1980s and is looking forward to seeing a mural that will give the band public recognition for the breadth of their accomplishments.

The crowd laughed along with Tarik “Black Thought” Trotter as he mentioned participating in the graffiti epidemic that spurred the Anti-Graffiti Network and, consequently, Mural Arts Philadelphia. Trotter said, “I had scrub time, you know what I’m saying?   I went before Judge Reynolds back in the day, and he said, ’150 hours,’ so I had to do these murals. So it’s such an amazing blessing and so ironic for a legal mural to be going up of The Roots.”

In partnership with Sports and Entertainment Financial Group, LLC (SEFG), Mural Arts will showcase and commemorate the ensemble’s prominent place in Philadelphia’s rich music history with this larger-than-life mural, a project sponsored by the City of Philadelphia Department of Human Services.

Call for artist proposals for this project: (The deadline is Monday, November 21, 2011!)

Last updated: Mar 21, 2016

Share Your Thoughts