1. Sunday afternoon church service with Kirk Franklin

The sound problems and technical delays on the Roots Picnic main stage persisted on the second day of the festival. But Kirk Franklin made the most of it.

The gospel bandleader’s set began a half hour late and only lasted 20 minutes, but the Texas preacher spent all of that time either on the lips of the stage or running through the crowd, performing only with a trio of golden-voiced singers and minimal backup from a keyboard player.

It was a short and to-the-point Sunday afternoon church service in which he rolled out an array of crowd participation tricks, effective at disarming skeptics or non-believers:

“You can snap your fingers,” he said, urging one Picnic-goer to loosen up. “You’re not gonna go to hell.”

And he had another way of telling everyone else that his hortatory music was meant for all of them: “This is only for the people who are sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

2. An unexpected appearance (callback edition)

One of the sweet surprises of Picnic was a Sunday afternoon set by Mumu Fresh, the fast-tongued rapper and singer dressed with a futuristic flair that would have fit right in with Patti LaBelle, Sarah Dash, and Nona Hendryx in the 1970s. I thought I had no idea who Mumu Fresh was — while wanting to know more after hearing the breakneck of “Back To The Money,” which she described as a “song for a post pandemic society — when all this inflation goes away.”

Then I realized that she is Maimouna Youssef, the vocalist featured on the Roots’ 2007 song “Don’t Feel Right,” one of the band’s greatest singles and an itchy, unsettled piece of funk that was ahead of its time as a song for an age of anxiety.

3. An unexpected appearance (Black Thought edition)

As Youssef made her exit, she walked by The Roots’ Black Thought, who stood stage left, huddling with DJ Diamond Kuts, the festival’s secret weapon, who’s tirelessly kept crowds entertained through often lengthy delays on the main stage. What’s he doing there, I wondered?

It turned out he was waiting to come on as an unannounced guest for the next act, which was DJ JazzyJeff teaming with Rakim, the esteemed 1980s New York rapper who was once half of the golden age of hip-hip duo Eric B. & Rakim. Even if Black Thought hadn’t dropped in, the set would have been one of the highlights of the fest, with Jeff putting his skills as an innovative turntablist on display while Rakim moved the crowd with a ethnic and verbal dexterity that’s remained timeless.

But the fun started for real when Black Thought jumped out and the crowd realized it was in for something special, taking delight in hanging with one of his heroes and reciting rhymes from “Eric B. is President,” a song that was written as a tribute to Rakim’s former DJ that, on stage at the Roots Picnic in 2022, played out as two revered MCs celebrating each other and a legendary Philly DJ named Jazzy Jeff.

4. Whack’s World

In 2018, Tierra Whack made her first Roots Picnic appearance, in the last year at Festival Pier before the event made its move to the greener pastures of the Mann and Fairmount Park.

At the time, Whack was just starting to make her name as one of the most idiosyncratic hip-hop artists of her time: She had recently released Whack World, a 15-song, 15-minute album that expressed more succinct and clear-headed ideas than most pop projects that lasted three times as long.

Four years later, the Philadelphia rapper and singer has moved from Roots Picnic side stage to front-and-center on the main stage, just a few names below top billing.

But along with her increased notoriety, has Whack’s approach become any more conventional or easily categorizable? Nope. Fans have been waiting for a full length Whack World follow up. Instead she’s served a series of off-beat releases, such as the three EPs she put out in December, each of which has a title that raises the question of what genre category her music fits in: Rap? Pop? R&B?

During Sunday’s performance, she was dressed inred-and-white polka dots and backed only by a DJ. Her music is rooted in hip-hop for sure, but it’s so reliably and irresistibly catchy that you’d have to call it pop.

Her sophistication as a songwriter was evident on the gauzy “Heaven,” which is featured in the new Philly-centric Adam Sandler basketball movie Hustle. The way she uses her barbed sense of humor to sting was demonstrated in the zinger she lands in telling an ex: “you remind me of my deadbeat Dad.”

Of all her talents, Whack’s comic flair is probably the most impressive: she was funny when goofing with security guards or family members in the audience. And speaking of family, she was happy to cede the spotlight to her toddler cousin, who has become a TikTock phenomenon. She brought him on stage for a three-song stretch in which he was able to contribute some adorable vocal asides.

5. Soulquarians v. Kamasi Washington

Oh Roots Picnic, you are a cruel master. What is the sign of a really good, if not great, music festival? When there are two acts that you absolutely have to see, playing at exactly the same time.

That wasn’t supposed to be an issue in this instance, but delays and shuffled scheduling wound up creating an insoluble Sunday night conflict.

For those not in the know: Soulquarians is a magic word in Roots world, referring to the loose aggregation of musicians that played on D’Angelo’s 1999 Voodoo album (among others), including Questlove and Roots keyboard player James Poyser.

On this night, the Soulquarians included Quest, Poyser, in-demand Philly bassist Adam Blackstone, DJ JazzyJeff and others. The plan was for them to be the backing band for a trio of 1990s and 2000s R&B hitmakers: SWV, Keyshia Cole, and Philadelphia’s own Musiq Soulchild. That was happening on the main stage, where the crowd was getting increasingly thick, though not quite so packed as it was on opening up night in Roots-Mary J. Blige anticipation.

Meanwhile, over on the Mann stage, a comfortable chair and an expansive, humanistic interstellar jazz vision beckoned in the form of Kamasi Washington, the Los Angeles sax player and bandleader who has broken though to festival audiences since his 2015 triple LP The Epic.

What I did was wait for the Soulquarians to lock in to an undeniable groove behind SWV (who were down to two members instead of three) and take that in for a while, amid the sea of humanity on the broad expanse of Fairmount Park. And then I bolted over to the TD Pavilion, where the jazz heads were.

I arrived just in time to hear Washington’s trumpet player Dontae Winslow throw down a righteous spoken word rap about the corrosive evil of white supremacy. A lengthy jam ensued, and Washington’s band (which includes his father Ricky) soon followed with a song I hadn’t realized how much I wanted to hear.

It was “Fists of Fury,” a track from Washington’s 2018 album Heaven & Earth, which takes inspiration from martial arts movies (and perhaps the Wu Tang Clan) in suggesting that physical confrontation may be necessary for justice to prevail.

The rich groove swelled, and vocalist Patrice Quinn repeated these lines: “Our time as victims is over. We will no longer ask for justice. Instead, we will take our retribution.”