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What makes The Roots so special as a hip-hop outfit? Is it the dedication to live instruments, the there-ness of a stage show without samples, without programming? In a field that prides itself on producing music with a level of technology that belongs on the hip-hop space shuttle, The Roots get out of the studio and onto the stage without push-button rhythms. Is it wrong to call them cuddly? The music has such a playfulness, a rambling throb of irreverence, it'd be real nice to tuck them into the pocket of your hoodie and let them play you a soundtrack. And how many musicians name an album after the work of an economist? (2004's "The Tipping Point" from Malcolm Gladwell's book has to be the first since … who knows? MC Adam Smith? DJ Invisible Hand?) At least we can rest assured that they do like to play live, no question. Which they'll do at the Canal Club Saturday, May 6, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $17-$20. 643-2582. S
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