The Roots

Home Grown! The Beginners Guide to Understanding the Roots (Geffen)

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>1/5

Leave it to hip-hop innovators the Roots to rethink the major-label repackaging job. The two-CD Home Grown! is more of a scrapbook than a crash course. Staples such as "Adrenaline" and "Double Trouble," both from 1999's Things Fall Apart, represent the group's well-known studio material, but the collection also dusts off live recordings ("Sacrifice" and "The Seed") from BBC Radio One's Worldwide Show with Gilles Peterson, and early studio tracks such as "Essaywhuman?!!!!!" (from the 1993 debut Organix). The 29 tracks will get newbies acquainted with the Roots' sound, and hardcore Okayplayers will appreciate the remixes ("Don't Say Nuthin' ") and newly unearthed material ("Quicksand Millennium").

But liner notes by drummer Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson are the real treat. The blog-style vignettes recount tales from the illustrious history of the Roots and the neosoul-cum-alt-rap crowd they ran with (D'Angelo, Common and Eve all make appearances). Through these anecdotes, ?uesto comes clean about the band's early missteps, admits they almost forgot "The Next Movement" after writing it at a sound check in Hawaii, says he compared his 'fro to Richard Simmons's on a flight home after winning a Grammy for "You Got Me," and offers the final word on why Erykah Badu sang that song's chorus (the version on this collection features co-author Jill Scott). These musings will expand anyone's understanding of the band's history, from its years on Philadelphia street corners to the treacherous making of last year's The Tipping Point. The Roots' music makes the perfect soundtrack to this juicy story.—Cristina Black