Philadelphia’s the Roots first became known as hip-hop’s consummate contrarians, playing jazzy grooves on live instruments (no samples allowed) and waxing poetic about their distaste for the commercial mainstream. Reliving the kaleidoscopic shattering of that purism is one of the delights of this thorough retrospective, which has been “packaged” as two separate CD-length “volumes.” The carefree, lush acoustics of 1993’s “Pass the Popcorn” flow casually into “Don’t Say Nuthin’ (Remix),” which has been stitched together from off-kilter keyboard loops and snippets of a percussive asthma attack. Sly moves like substituting that remix for the original “Nuthin’,” an ill-advised 2004 stab at electro-lite crossover, make Home Grown! an enjoyably selective trip down memory lane. And several free-wheeling, high-energy live cuts are reminders that — at least until Jay-Z’s Def Jam Left drops their seventh studio effort this fall — the best place to begin untangling the Roots is still front and center in a fully rocked house.
On the Web:
The Roots: http://www.theroots.com/