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Mos Def, John Legend Join Roots for Annual Jam Session

John Legend

It’s hard to pick the biggest surprise of Saturday night’s Sixth Annual Roots Jam Session at Los Angeles’ Key Club. Some might say it was when an unannounced Mos Def performed his ‘Black On Both Sides’ standout ‘Umi Says’ and Grammy nominated track ‘Casa Bey,’ from his latest album ‘Casa Bey.’ Others might say it was when Jay Electronica came out of nowhere to perform his buzz track ‘Exhibit C,’ sending everyone at the pre-Grammy party crowd in a frenzy. Or maybe it was when the evening’s co-host John Legend revealed, “We’re working on a new album due this summer and we’re gonna do some some songs off it.” Legend, with the Roots, then performed three new tracks, one that sported the refrain “Havin’ a hard time with this crazy town/Havin’ a hard time with this love to be found,” and the Bill Withers‘ Vietnam War-inspired track ‘I Can’t Write Left-Handed.’

During the course of the evening, that had Slash and Macy Gray watching from the sidelines, others would take their turn with the “Legendary Roots Crew” at the Green Music Group sponsored event. A reemerging Scott Storch would step in on the keys, British chanteuse Estelle asked if she could take the crowd back in time to the ’50s and then performed the Temptations’ ‘Get Ready.’ Linkin Park‘s Mike Shinoda played with his Apple iPhone during his mini-set with the Roots. Members of the Young Money crew — Lil Twist, Mack Maine were in the house, and the crew’s “princess” Shanell took to the stage to perform her track ‘Glamourous Life.’ Other female vocalists included Alice Smith and New Orleans-bred R&B singer Ledisi covering Buddy Miles‘ ‘Them Changes.’ At around 3AM, after three marathon hours of non-stop music Roots drummer Questlove mouthed from his drum kit, “Who’s left?”

While they may be the house band on ‘Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,’ the Roots showed that, first and foremost, they live up to their “Legendary Roots Crew” moniker.

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