The Roots are famous for their jam sessions that break down genres and bring together artists all in the name of musical friendship and the second Bud Light x The Roots & Friends Jam Session at SXSW 2017 proved the love is stronger than ever. The lineup was already stacked with Redman, Method Man, CyHi the Prynce, Jidenna, Shakey Graves, Cloves and Nick Grant on the bill. But the hip-hop band brought multiple surprises and further proved the extent of their legacy to Austin's 800 Congress.
After openers FRENSHIP and James Hersey wooed the crowd with a pair of feel-good jams each, The Roots quickly took the stage and were already bringing surprises for the night's first guest. "I got some friends I'd like to come to the stage," Roots' main rapper Black Thought told the crowd before bringing out Rae Sremmurd. The young duo clearly came to turn up as they jumped right into their performance with Slim Jxmmi ecstatically running to each individual Root member and high-fiving them. "We just came off a plane from Vegas," the duo told the crowd. "But we had to show love to our brothers." The guys finished the set with their No. 1 hit "Black Beatles" (which you can watch below), only warming up the crowd for the upcoming slew of surprise cameos that would hit the stage soon enough.
Friendship is also about helping give shine to those you love and The Roots featured a slew of new artists to put the now-turned-up audience on to including Cloves (the Australian songbird who casually belted out a string of Mariah Carey-esque high notes to close her set), Nick Grant (the buzzy southern rapper intrigued fans with his subtle delivery), CyHi the Prynce (who brought the energy to a new high with a booming rendition of "Nu Africa") and Shakey Graves (the Austin native who brought his blend of rock and blues for one of the more intimate moments of the night).
De La Soul was the next surprise, bringing a healthy helping of classic hip-hop to the scene which felt right at home for The Roots who have been doing their thing for three decades now. "That's family, those are my big brothers" Black Thought told the audience before introducing another one of his "brothers," Jidenna. Fresh off the release of his debut album The Chief, the singer-producer delivered cuts from his LP including new single "Long Live the Chief," new single "Bambi," and closed with breakout hit "Classic Man." "This is one of the greatest days of my life, for sure," the singer-rapper told the crowd before a pair of surprise talents hit the stage.
“This is one of the greatest days of my life.”
T.I. brought the audience to a new level of hype for crowd-favorites "What You Know About That" and "Bring Em Out," performing each cut with a huge smile on his face.
Next up, The Roots brought out Brandy with the R&B-pop legend earning one of the loudest cheers of the night. The singer quickly moved through snippets of some of her most famous hits—"What About Us," "Full Moon," "Sittin' Up in My Room"—looking genuinely overjoyed. "This is so dope," she exclaimed before closing out with "I Wanna Be Down." "This is my first single from when I was 15-year-sold, I can't believe it," before leaving stage with an excited shriek.
The night ended with a hits-filled medley featuring Redman and Method Man rolling through classics like "Bring the Pain," "Da Goodness" and "Method Man." The duo kept asking, "Do you remember the '90s shit?!" with the audience—which, at this point, had developed a huge crowd outside the venue, listening through open windows—would eagerly rock their heads in response.
A big theme throughout the night was friendship, but it was clear the relationships shown here went deeper in the mutual admiration, respect and love between all. As The Roots signed off for the night, host Seth Herzog shouted, "See you again next year!" indicating that the friendship between The Roots, Bud Light, SXSW and whatever artist makes their way to the stage will continue thriving way into the future.