The greatest Independence Day party is of course the Philly 4th Of July Jam. But when these artists aren’t putting on a fantastic show, they like to celebrate in their own way. And as you would imagine, they go hard. We had exclusive interviews with members of the line up as they told us what their July 4th celebrations typically entail (hint: red, white, blue and awesomeness).
From yachts to tailgates, beaches to bonfires, these artists show their patriotism in the most stylish of ways. We’ve got J Hud’s BBQ must-haves, ultimate pool party invite list and take on showing some summer skin (if you got it, flaunt it!) The Philly King Questlove gives us his best tailgating tips and tells us about starting Philly’s biggest 4th of July tradition, while Aloe Blacc reminisces on experience with (possibly) illegal fireworks. And it doesn’t matter where you’re from (Ed Sheeran) – we’re glad to have you join the USA part-ay!
Check out these exclusive interviews and don’t miss these guys in action along with Nicki Minaj, while funny man Marlon Wayans hosts the “largest free concert in America,” the Philly 4th Of July Jam TONIGHT at 8/7 C.
VH1: So Miss J Hud, have you been to Philly before?
JH: I’ve been to Philly before, but briefly, never anything—ya know, for something like this. I can’t wait to get there!
Maybe this weekend you’ll start a new tradition, Philly cheesesteaks perhaps?
Oh yes! I definitely have to try that! I don’t eat red meat, but there’s a chicken spot I go to and they BBQ it. They roast the chicken and it’s like chicken wings. For me, being a healthy eater, it’s hard to find that in restaurants. I don’t remember the name of it. I think in the market area. When I’m in Philly, I go to that one little spot, it’s super good.
If you weren’t performing, how would you be celebrating?
You know what, normally when I have to work on like the 4th of July, which I love—I want it to be my tradition, that’s part of why I’m so excited. I would fly our entire family out and then all my fans would be there. Any holiday we’re working, we make sure to celebrate it because we’re each other’s family away from home. Like when I did Boston Pops, we went on a yacht cruise and had our own private party on there. I’m tied between getting on the yacht or a bonfire. But we’re definitely gonna do something. What yet, I don’t know. We’re definitely celebrating.
Don’t think you could go wrong either way…
I’m leaning more towards the bonfire because we did the yacht thing the year before last.
If you do the bonfire, you could always BBQ. Any favorite or secret recipes you could tell us about?
As they’re giving us some chicken wings, I’m good! What else? I love turkey burgers and stuff like that. And I like to take apples with real food. Because it’s so good—the salt, the seasoning and then the sweetness and that way I’m not eating too much “wrong.” I love to have popcorn. We always order popcorn from What’s Poppin’.
A little birdy told us that you just had your first alcoholic drink on accident…
Yeah—on the stage. It was unfortunate because I’ve never had a drink in my life. I was on the stage performing and thinking it’s my water that they placed on the stage for me. Someone left their drink on the stage and I’m thinking it’s mine and I go to reach for it—not thinking—and what made me notice it was the sugar in it. I didn’t notice the liquor part yet. I was like, “Who would give me a drink with sugar in it and put in on my stage?”… “Oh my god what is this?!” I don’t even know what kind of alcoholic beverage it was. Luckily, it was watered down and I only took an inch of a sip. (Yuck noise)
We’re taking it you won’t be partaking in any [drinking] this 4th of July?
No! No one is allowed to leave their glasses on my stage anymore! No, that’s for sure.
Are you a beach or pool kind of gal?
This summer I have been into the water. I can’t believe it. I just put my first bikini on a couple weeks ago and I put it on my Instagram, so I got into the water when I was in Mexico. I’m still more comfortable with the pool because there are living things in the ocean. I’m a city girl, so not too into all of that.
No Jellyfish play for you.
Nah—I don’t want none of that.
You better be rocking that hard-earned Weight Watchers body in a bikini this summer.
Yeah, that was my goal for the summer. This summer I was like, “I’m gonna make it my goal to put on a swim suit or bikini or something like that.” I didn’t even know I had put on a bikini, I was like, “Oh! That’s what it is? Oh, I was wearing a bikini?” It was just a goal that I had for myself, but don’t get too used to it. I’m ‘gonna do this one time, I deserve that. I work hard for this body. I deserve it.
You can even rock the monokini.
I don’t even know what those things are! Yeah, I’ll give a little tummy here and there and switch it up and have fun with myself. I’m experimenting and enjoying the summer. Like, any shirt that I wear I cut it up and put it on the chopping board and cut it up and turn it into a crop top. Just have fun!
If you could pick five people—dead or alive—to be at your ultimate pool party this summer, who would it be?
There are so many people to pick from! I don’t even know where to start. Michael Jackson would have to be at it. I would like Prince, he could be at it. Whitney, if she wants to sing all day. And all of Destiny’s Child! The whole group because I’ve always loved them.
What do you think is going to be the song of the summer?
I’m hoping it’s my new joint, “It’s Your World.” I think it’s gonna take over. But there’s so many hot songs out this summer I don’t even know where to start. I’m gonna have to roll with “It’s Your World.” That’s what I will I say because that’s the song—we want to hit you with it. For the holidays—all the get-togethers, all the BBQs. All the parties. It’s the floor-filler. Me and R. Kelly, we did that joint together. I’m rooting for that one for sure.
How are you celebrating the huge success of your album X this summer? Did you expect this multitude of great feedback?
I expected it to do something but I didn’t expect it to outdo other people’s albums – we outsold Coldplay, which in England, I didn’t think was possible. I don’t know! It’s hard to celebrate ‘cus we’re always on to the next thing. I guess it’s like a double-edged sword. If you’re doing well, you’re going to be busy. There will be time to celebrate eventually.
You have the perfect opportunity tonight! Would you normally partake in 4th of July festivities?
I know. Being English, I see it as a celebration of America, not necessarily England getting kicked out. You don’t hate English and we don’t hate you. We get along very well. It’s a party to celebrate America and everything that’s good about it.
What’s a UK tradition that should be brought over to the US?
Tea. Whenever I ask for tea over here I always just get boiling water and a tea bag. Thats not tea. We need to introduce it back into American society.
No time for vacation, but I’m doing shows in places that might as well be a vacation – Japan, Korea, Australia. Lot’s of cool places I would go on holiday but I’m working.
One place in particular you’re most looking forward to?
I’ve got gigs in India next year. I’m excited for that.
If you were going to have a huge summer bash, who would you invite?
I just saw James Brown in an interview very, very happy so I’m thinking he could be quite fun. Andrew W.K., remember him? “Party Hard.” (sings) I imagine he is someone that would party hard. Clearly. And I can have my friends there, right? Beyonce. ‘Cus everyone there would just be falling over her.
Have you met her?
No, I think I’d turn into a female if I met her. Grow a pair of ovaries…
Also [at the party], Robin Williams back in the day, that would be fun. And Abe Lincoln. ‘Cus he’d be like ‘What the hell is going on here?’
What do you need on your summer playlist?
Did Essential Garage ever make it big over here? ‘90s music from when I was a kid. That kind of thing. You would like it.
What’s your beverage of choice at a good summer party?
Usually start of with a jagerbomb. That’s how I’ll start the night. And usually end the night. I had a night recently where no one bought actual drinks, everyone just kept buying jagerbombs. Oh god, it was messy. Either start off with that, then have a gin and tonic or a Corona, that’s a good solid drink. Or an espresso martini.
Oh, keepin’ it classy?
Yes’m. Food-wise, Doritos lightly salted with dip. Chicken nuggets…
What are you most excited for tonight?
I’m really looking forward to playing with The Roots. Everyone of my friends, musical or not musical, is in disbelief about it and is very, very jealous. It doesn’t happen to a lot of people in general – I’m just very excited to do it, I hope I don’t mess up!
If you weren’t part of the Philly 4th of July Jam, what would you be doing to celebrate in the city that started it all?
I’d probably be scheming and trying to find a way to get prime seats to see this show. I ask my teenage self, “What do you wanna see?” I remember 10-15 years ago kind of rolling my eyes at the options that were before me for Philadelphia. In my opinion, 4th of July in Philly should be what New Year’s Eve is in Times Square. Where else to celebrate the 4th of July than the place where the declaration was signed? I was always said, “Man, Philly needs to step up it’s game and really bring some entertainment.” When we proposed the idea of us taking over the festivities, the city couldn’t of been happier. “What took you so long?!,” they said. For me, I would probably be sleeping/tailgating somewhere right about now, finding prime spots for the show.
What are your essentials for a tailgate?
First of all, you need about four or five other partners to relieve you. That’s tailgate rule number one: never tailgate by yourself. Food-wise, Philly is the home to some of the greatest, tastiest portable foods. Hoagie options, cheeseteak options, don’t necessarily have to have BBQ like other cities – enough to feed a multitude. And bring your friends.
Over the last five years, what has been the most epic Philly 4th moment?
I’d say the look on people’s faces when we pulled off the impossible last year and showed the world a brand new Lauryn Hill. That to me was like, one for the record books. We kept it a secret, I don’t know how. We really didn’t know if it was going to happen, we put the offer out there maybe 24 hours before. It just came off like gangbusters, I couldn’t believe it. It was a magic moment. Also, I always try to have one or two personal wish list people to play with. Getting veterans that I grew up on, Earth, Wind & Fire, Michael McDonald, these are guys I practiced to in my West Philadelphia basement. To even be seen as peers of them, on the same stage, kinda freaks me out. One of my favorite times is when Boyz II Men did it with us… we all went to high school together… for us to perform for the first time for our city was an exciting moment.
How does Questlove kick it in the summer? Any favorite vacation spots?
People that know Questlove know that he does not say “no” to any job whatsoever. I’m the last person on earth to actually utilize the word “relax.” The way I’m gonna spend my summer is scoring two movie projects, three television projects, coming up with more ideas, of course Tonight Show madness… I have to have my syllabus ready, going to start teaching at NYU in January. I’ll probably spend my summer relaxing by taking on a 17th job (literally). We just haven’t figured out what it is yet.
What are you most looking forward to tonight?
Wow. Actually getting on stage with The Roots again. It’s been quite some time since I’ve performed on The Tonight Show with them. They’re a fantastic band, one of my favorites of all time.
You’re from California, what’s a 4th of July tradition specific to Cali that we should know about?
Illegal fireworks maybe. In Orange County it’s bad, you have to have a special permit, but Tijuana is so close. Just go down, get some fireworks, bring them up and shoot them off in your neighborhood during sunset, now if you’re too young, you go out when it’s still light out, when you get older, you can go out and wreak havoc in the neighborhood.
How do you usually celebrate?
Early on when I was younger, we had really great celebrations with my family – lots of music, lots of food, a day off from work. A reason for celebration. Everybody can gather together and shoot some fireworks and have fun.
What food, drinks and music need to be at one of these hoppin’ parties?
For me and my family, because my parents are from Panama, and they became US citizens in the ‘80s, the concept of being an American and celebrating the 4th was something that was new, but welcomed with open arms and taken seriously. That said, we weren’t listening to “Born in the USA” (laughs)… We were listening to salsa music. For the food – arroz con pollo, black beans, Caribbean food.
What is essential for your summer playlist to get you in summer mode?
Pool or beach?
I’m more of a beach guy than a pool guy. Especially with where my wife and parents are from with such beautiful beaches – plus I live in LA. As long as I can find somewhere where the water’s clean, I’m good.
Where’s your favorite summer spot?
My family lives part time in Miami, part time in LA, so going to Miami is always a good thing. My wife is from Australia so we go down there as well to celebrate and spend some time.
[Photo Credit: Getty]