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Third Annual Roots, Rock, Run, GrassROOTS Community Foundation Raises $6k

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Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, The GrassROOTS Community Foundation (GCF), members of The Roots band, and hundreds of Philadelphians took to the streets of Germantown on May 30th for the 3rd Annual Roots, Rock, Run (R3) 5k community walk/run.

“We are running, walking, and talking in Germantown to show our support for healthy girls and healthy communities,” declares Trotter, co-founder and MC of the, The Roots.

Fourteen year-old Crystal Ortiz (pictured above), was this year’s winner finishing the route in 18:25. She was one of hundreds of runners and walkers that helped raise nearly $6,000. Proceeds from the race went to support GrassROOTS afterschool health programs for youth at Anna L. Lingelbach Elementary School. Primary support for R3 comes from Jimmy Jazz stores, who gifted 100 pair of Adidas sneakers and Reebok who donated 100 pairs to participating youth. Additional key support came form State Legislature Stephen Kinsey, Councilwoman Cindy Bass, State Senator Art Haywood, the Philadelphia Police Department and SEPTA.


R3 is a GrassROOTS engagement activity that raises awareness of the importance of physical activity and healthier living and seeks to reclaim impoverished neighborhood spaces. This year’s event took place once again at Lingelbach Elementary, site of the new GrassROOTS’ afterschool program for girls, funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

GrassROOTS chose to remain at Lingelbach because of the economic and social challenges facing the community. More than a quarter of the residents in the targeted neighborhood live in poverty, and the income per capita is 15 percent less than the rest of Philadelphia. Equally important was the fact that Lingelbach was only awarded $160.00 for their discretionary funding for the entire school year.

City Councilwoman Cindy Bass, State Rep Steve Kinsey, State Sen Art Haywood and Aja Graydon of Kindred the Family Soul were all in attendance, along with runners from Black Girls Run, the Black Running Organization, Black Men Run and even the principal of Lingelbach. R&B groups Mprynt and Good Girl both performed.


The day also featured other acts of service and activities, including face-painting and surprise musical performances. And as tradition dictates, R3 hosted its dance contest. The Lingelbach Home and School Association was also collecting summer reading books and toys that encourage outdoor activity.

For more information on GrassROOTS and R3, visit:
–> www.grassrootscommunityfoundation.org
–> @grassrootsfound

Story/Photos via Skai Blue Media

Let’s Move It Philly: Black Thought and Hometown Heroes Party with Purpose

Story by Franceska Rouzard

Many in the region may remember Saturday, February 21st as the night of a wicked wintry storm. However, the funkiest and flyest of Philadelphia will remember it as the night they shared a dance floor with brilliant activists like Dr. Janice Johnson Dias, and talented artists and pioneers the likes of Philadelphia’s own Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Rich Medina [yea we’re claiming you too Rich!].


Hosted by the GrassROOTS Community Foundation, an organization co-founded by long time friends Black Thought and Dr. Johnson Dias, The 5th Annual Let’s Move It: Philly aimed to raise money for Linglebach Elementary [learn how you can help #SaveLingelbach], one of many educational institutions in Philadelphia who received laughable, in a not so funny kind of way, discretionary funding for this school year. Held at Trilogy [formerly Palmer Social Club], attendees described it simply as, “a good time for a good cause.”

Many who braved the weather and ventured to the event, from near and far, expressed openly they were “glad they came out!”


Personally I, as a Philly transplant, was in awe of the entire evening. It is difficult to pinpoint a sole source of wonderment. It could have been the overwhelming turn out given the weather. Perhaps, it was bankhead bouncing to Busta Rhymes with an accomplished, well dressed sociology professor. Conceivably, it was the easy-going nature of Grammy-Award winning, world-renowned artists mingling with guests just like all the others.

No doubt it was the DJ sets and live performance from Black Thought, which so well complimented the energy of the evening – originating with the cause(s) the GrassROOTS Community Foundation stand for.


I was afforded the privilege of speaking with Dr. Johnson Dias, Rich Medina, and Black Thought about the GrassROOTS Community Foundation, the Linglebach Elementary cause, and future plans for Philadelphia.

FR: On the home page of the GrassROOTS Community Foundation’s website, there is a big banner that says “A Tribute to Tanji Dewberry”. Who is that?

Dr. Johnson Dias: Tanji Dewberry is a friend, author, mentor and a trailblazer in ‘Super Camp‘, a summer day camp for Philadelphia’s inner city girls. Her dream was to extend it to Philadelphian boys. She died in a fire trying to rescue her children. Last year, her mother, Cynthia Mitchell, funded three boys to Super Camp.

FR: What does it take to put an event like this together?

Black Thought: It takes a lot of planning and flexibility and the delegation of many responsibilities. It takes a strong and reliable team, people you can trust and who can improvise. It takes a village.

FR: I read the GrassROOTS Community Foundation has a three year commitment to Linglebach Elementary to create an after school program. What are the next steps?

Black Thought: After tonight, we plan to give a nice sized contribution. Our next fundraiser is a 5k race called Roots Rock Run.

FR: Dr. Johnson Dias and Black Thought have decided to take their success and help the city of Philly, and others. What motivates you, Rich?

Rich Medina: I have a son, a 7 year old. Also, I went to college so I know the importance of education and learning. However, I feel I learned even more during college in my extracurricular activities — outside of the classroom. For that reason, I remain a student even now. I believe in a lifetime of learning and promoting wellness and forward thinking.

More info about the GrassROOTS Community Foundation

Website | Twitter | Facebook

 Photos courtesy of Saeed Briscoe

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Legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff and International Music Producer Rich Medina Join Tarik “Black Thought” Trotter of The Roots and A Special Surprise Celebrity Guest for a Classic Dance Party to Raise Funds For Women and Girls Living in Economically Disadvantaged Communities

On February 21st, Tarik “Black Thought” Trotter, co-founder and lead MC of the GRAMMY® Award-winning hip hop band, The Roots, will host the 5th Annual Let’s Move It: Philly! charity dance party to raise funds for the GrassROOTS Community Foundation (GCF). In addition to hosting, Black Thought, co- founder and Chairman of the Board for GCF, will perform alongside hip hop legend DJ Jazzy Jeff and international producer and DJ Rich Medina. New this year is a special surprise celebrity guest committed to helping young girls and women lead healthy, happy lives. Let’s Move It: Philly! will take over Trilogy, formerly The Palmer Social Club, located at 601 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123. Doors open at 9pm.

To purchase tickets, visit: letsmoveitphilly5.eventbrite.com.

Video of previous Let’s Move it Philly! Events

The GrassROOTS Community Foundation—co-founded by Black Thought and Dr. Janice Johnson Dias—is committed to contributing to the health and well-being of vulnerable populations and disadvantaged communities. Using rigorous scientific research, GCF creates innovative, health and wellness-centered, community-based programming that provides educational and recreational services to girls and women.

“We want to interrupt the structural inequality that exists in our communities; food access and health disparities are much higher in the African American and Hispanic populations than the rest of the nation,” says Dr. Johnson Dias. “The GrassROOTS Community Foundation recognizes and upholds young girls and women—specifically those of color—as agents of change and creates spaces for them to thrive physically, economically and emotionally. We know it is not enough to just describe the water in which people are drowning, we have to move and do the work together to change the tide.”

This year’s beneficiary organization is the Anna L. Lingelbach Elementary School in Germantown. In August 2014, there was a national outcry after it was revealed the school received only $160 in discretionary funding for the entire 2014-2015 school year. With a total student body of 400, spending equates to just 2.5 cents per pupil. The budget was to cover the costs of everything from books and copier paper to stamps and afterschool activities. After learning of the unfortunate appropriation, GCF moved into action. The proceeds from Let’s Move It: Philly! will go toward building an afterschool program at the school and increasing the capacity of youth and adults in the Germantown neighborhood. This program, titled LEAVES, is a social action public health program for middle school aged-girls. Funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, LEAVES will educate and inform community members about health disparities; amplify youth and community members’ voices on local health concerns and begin a community partnership to establish community investment in girls’ well-being.

GCF is committed to the LEAVES program at Lingelbach for three years.

“We’re excited to be part of the Linglebach community and to start the LEAVES afterschool program. As a father, I always want my children to have access to activities that challenge their bodies and their minds, and make them better people,” said Black Thought. “This year’s Let’s Move It Philly concert is going to be amazing and will give people an opportunity to party for a purpose with me and my friends.”

Building on the success of First Lady Michelle Obama’s national call to action to encourage young people and family members to be active and make better food choices, Let’s Move It: Philly! is one of GCF’s 10 city initiative— which is also active in Newark—that addresses health inequality for African Americans and low- income communities.

The Let’s Move It: Philly! dance party is part of a day-long wellness event which begins with a Townhall Conversation about Health at Lingelbach School, which will happen in the morning.

Let’s Move It: Philly! is sponsored by Monami Entertainment, Skai Blue Media and Superfly Mom.

To purchase tickets, visit: letsmoveitphilly5.eventbrite.com.

Video of previous Let’s Move it Philly! Events

ABOUT GrassROOTS Community Foundation
The GrassROOTS Community Foundation (GCF) is an anti-poverty and wellness organization that supports, develops, and scales community-driven solutions to the health challenges facing women and girls living in poverty. For more information, visit www.grass-rootsfoundation.org.

ABOUT Skai Blue Media
Skai Blue Media is a full-service communications agency based in Philadelphia. We bring together experience from the fields of public relations, journalism, video production, retail and non-profit in addition to maintaining close relationships with media outlets, business networks influencers, entrepreneurs and decision-makers. Skai Blue Media specializes in helping businesses build their communications foundation. Whether we are helping a client prepare for a store opening or generating press opportunities in regional and national publications, our unique pitching style is secures coverage in niche and national publications. However big or small, we provide each client with an individualized approach to garnering press and creating unique collaborations. For more information, follow us online @SkaiBlueMedia or visit Facebook.com/skaibluephilly.
ABOUT Monami Entertainment
Monami Entertainment is a multi-faceted boutique entertainment company specializing in talent management, brand development and film/television production. Founded by Haitian-American philanthropist Mona Scott-Young, Monami Entertainment was created on the premise of maintaining Scott-Young’s track record for success while expanding the scope of services beyond music to encompass all areas of the entertainment business.


The Annie E. Casey Foundation Funds Public Health Social Action Program For Economically Disadvantaged Youth of Lingelbach Elementary School Community.

This Saturday, February 21st, from 9am – noon, the GrassROOTS Community Foundation (GCF) will kick off a day of wellness by hosting a Town Hall on Health in conjunction with its all-star 5th Annual Let’s Move It: Philly! hip hop fundraiser. The health forum is a family-friendly morning of community engagement and open dialogue at Anna L. Lingelbach Elementary School in Germantown, located at 6340 Wayne Avenue in Philadelphia, PA. This event brings together music, policy and social action for a common purpose.

 Visit letsmoveitphilly5.eventbrite.com to purchase tickets.

Panelists include youth and parents from Lingelbach School along with local lawmakers PA State Senator Art Hayward, Councilwoman Cindy Bass and PA State Legislative District leader Stephen Kinsey. Joining these elected officials are entertainment mogul Mona Scott-Young, recording artist and activist Talib Kweli, as well as Philadelphia-based stars Aja Dantzler of Kindred The Family Soul and radio personality Laiya St. Clair. Each panelist will speak on health issues and challenges facing youth and economically disadvantaged communities. In addition, GrassROOTS will officially announce the launch of its LEAVES program at Lingelbach, a public health and social action program designed to improve the health and well-being of adolescent girls, their families and their neighborhood. Funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, LEAVES will also educate and inform community members about health disparities; amplify youth and community members’ voices on local health concerns and begin a community partnership to establish community investment in girls’ well-being.

The GrassROOTS Community Foundation—co-founded by Tarik “Black Thought” Trotter, co-founder and lead MC of the GRAMMY Award winning hip hop band The Roots, and John Jay College sociologist Dr. Janice Johnson Dias—is committed to contributing to the health and wellness of vulnerable populations and disadvantage communities. Using rigorous scientific research, GCF creates and supports innovative public health and social action programs for women and girls.

In August 2014, there was a national outcry after it was revealed Lingelbach Elementary received only $160 in discretionary funding for the entire 2014-2015 school year. With a total student body of 400, spending equates to just 2.5 cents per pupil. The budget was to cover the costs of everything from books and copier paper to stamps and afterschool activities. After learning of the unfortunate appropriation, GCF moved into action. The proceeds from Let’s Move It: Philly! will go toward building an afterschool program at the school and increasing the capacity of youth and adults in the Germantown neighborhood. GCF has established a three-year commitment to the community.

“Collectively, we can create solutions to the health and economic challenges facing our community. The time for action is now,” says GrassROOTS President, Dr. Johnson Dias.

In addition to visiting vendors, fitness activities, healthy food sampling and a special surprise musical performance, participants of the Town Hall on Health will learn more about the needs and concerns of community stakeholders via various panels moderated by Dr. Johnson Dias. The conversations will focus on physical, mental and sexual health and cover subtopics like health disparities, childhood obesity and bullying.

The day’s events will conclude at the 5th Annual Let’s Move It: Philly! hip hop dance party where guests will party for the purpose of raising funds for Lingelbach. Headliners include GrassROOTS Chairman Black Thought, the legendary Jazzy Jeff and Philly health arts ambassador and international producer, DJ Rich Medina. Special surprise guests will also take the state to entertain the audience at Triology, formerly known as the Palmer Social Club.

Visit letsmoveitphilly5.eventbrite.com to purchase tickets.


The GrassROOTS Community Foundation (GCF) is a public health and social action organization that supports, develops and scales health and wellness programs for women and girls, particularly those who are economically disadvantaged. For more information, visit www.grassrootsfoundation.org or follow online @grassrootsfound.

Stephen Marley @ the Trocadero: Recap

Friday April 18, 2014 – photos and story by Aran Hart

Stephen “Ragga” Marley filled the Trocadero Theatre Friday night with the special sounds blending his namesake’s classics, his own hits, and introducing his latest album Revelation Part 2: Fruit of Life (look for its release later in 2014), gathering fans from all around the Philadelphia and Tri-State areas.

The night opened with Stephen’s son Jo Mersa engaging the audience with a young generation style of conscious lyrics and “ghetto-youths” dancehall. Jo Mersa studio tracks like (Comfortable), cut through clear but his live performance still needs improvement.

Jo Mersa – Comfortable

Dancehall artist Wayne Marshall followed with smooth lover’s rock steady riddims like (Good Love) that moved the crowd, especially those who came with their lover, to feel all right. Marshall can switch up to some bad man tunes (I Know) over dance based sounds so his show mixes both styles his fans have come to expect.

Wayne Marshall – I Know

When the main attraction, Stephen Marley, stepped out in his usual denim attire the crowd crescendoed to greet the reggae superstar with love, which was certainly the theme, and one reciprocated throughout the performance. Standing front and center with his signature lion-art designed guitar, Marley interacted with the crowd with radiant smiles and that ever-so familiar raspy Marley trademark voice, receiving warm responses as his band dropped into recognizable tunes, or announced the newest premiers. Wayne Marshall made a quick cameo appearance, and even reggae stars Capleton & Sizzla jumped out in front of the bright lights to fill the room with excitement performing the album’s new song, that actually dabbles into EDM and dub-step styles, (Rock Stone).

Stephen Marley Ft. Sizzla & Capleton – Rock Stone 

The Bob Marley classic Could You Be Loved jammed on as Stephen bid farewell, until next time, to the crowd who cheered him back on stage for a heartfelt encore that concluded with another new premier of the beautiful acoustic ballad (Celebration)- featuring Jo Mersa. The chorus sings: Cuz tonight / We ‘gon have a celebration of our life/ Party from night / ‘Til morning light / We all have a good time / Good vibrations.

Revelation Part 2 features a neo-soulful and hip-hop intertwined track with Philly’s own Black Thought (Thorn Or a Rose). This, along with the aforementioned Rock Stone, are proof that Marley continues to successfully bridge the gap between different genres and further cements his prowess as a critically acclaimed producer in the industry beyond the reggae landscape.

This was indeed a celebration, and a revelation, with host Stephen “Ragga” Marley.

Stephen Marley Ft. Black Thought – Thorn Or a Rose

Follow Aran Hart on Twitter / Instagram

Let’s Move It Philly

To honor the first step in the GrassROOTS Community Foundation’s 10-city-iniative to address childhood obesity and health inequality for African Americans and those living in low-income communities, Black Thought hosted the annual Let’s Move It Philly this past Saturday, February 16th, at Sigma Sound.

Let’s Move It Philly takes place every year to raise funds for the GCF. Proceeds go to C.H.I.C.K.S. (Creating Healthy Informed Confident Knowledgeable Selves), a GCF-supported after school health program for girls at Harding Middle School.

In order to set the event off right, Black Thought, Dr. Janice Johnson Dias and the GrassROOTS Community Foundation enlisted the help of a few friends. Performances of the night included the incredible talents of: Malene Younglao, Chill Moody, STS, Dice Raw, Kindred the Family Soul and of course, Black Thought himself.

Check out photos from the event to relive the remarkable evening.

Reppin’ For The Art Of The City: The New Roots Mural

Photos by Joshua Pelta-Heller

The Mural Arts Program and Grammy award winning hip hop artists The Roots are proud to celebrate the production of the latest addition to the Albert M. Greenfield African American Iconic Images Collection. The Roots will be immortalized on the back of the World Communications Charter School with the upcoming mural due to be completed sometime in December 2012.

Black Thought of the Roots Paints a Piece of the New Mural

An event was held to honor local artisans and the continuing success of the Mural Arts Program at Ms. Tootsie’s at Broad and South Streets on Saturday, October 27. Executive Director of the Mural Arts Program, Jane Golden, made enthusiastic remarks about the program’s mission to improve public spaces and unite communities through artistic expression. The Roots’ Tariq Trotter and Ahmir Thompson say they are honored to be a part of this project and consider it to be one of their greatest achievements as artists and Philadelphians.

Later, guests walked to the site of the upcoming mural for an unveiling of the design and location. The day was marked by performances from Philadelphia natives Chill Moody, Rone, and Dice Raw. Attendees participated in interactive mural painting and t-shirt making with the artists who will be completing the mural.  Collaborators as well as residents shared a mutual love for the city’s unique culture and innovative traditions, and the event highlighted Philadelphia’s long standing and ever growing art scene through live music and visual arts.

Mash-update! Mic Check 1234! by Max Tannone

NYC mash up artist’s, Max Tannone,  latest release, Mic Check 1234, brings together hip hop and punk

Good news- Max Tannone is back. The New York City mash-up artist recently dropped Mic Check 1234!, his latest collection of smashed up jams from different sides of the world. It’s awesome. This time around Tannone, who used to go by the moniker Minty Fresh Beats, sticks hip hop and punk rock in a boat and lets them fly off into the wild blue yonder together. I know- I’m mixing metaphors, but on purpose. This is post about a new mash up album. It’s only fitting.

Previously Tannone has mashed up Mos Def and reggae (Mos Dub, released in 2010,) Talib Kweli and reggae (Dub Kweli, also released in 2010,) Jay Z and Radiohead (Jaydiohead andJaydiohead: The Encore, released in 2009,) new and old Beastie Boys (Doublecheck Your Head, released in 2009) and prior to Mic Check 1234!, a mash up of Ghostface Killah and classic afro beat (Ghostfunk, released in 2011.) Probably the biggest compliment you could pay Tannone is that none of these albums sound as clumsy as they could and sound much tighter than you’d expect. The same could be said for Mic Check 1234!

On Mic Check 1234, the worlds of hip hop and punk are combined, forming the most unlikely successful duo this side of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito in Twins. Dead Prez mixed with the Sex Pistols, Black Star mixed with the Ramones, Black Thought, Dice Raw and Peedi Crack mixed with the Dead Kennedys, Tupac mixed with X, Nas mixed with the Adolescents and much more. Passing this along to a friend, his first response was that Operation Ivy and M.O.P. mash up was insane. I agree, wholeheartedly. It is insane. Tannone might be insane- but in the best possible way.

Even more insane? You can download this for free. Free, as in no money, leaving you plenty of money to go out and buy the Twins DVD as you’re not doubt thinking about it since I referenced it.

You can download Mic Check 1234! at Tannone’s Soundcloud page.