The legendary MC brings his unique perspective back to Ninja Tune for his 4th full-length studio album.
Rodney Smith aka Roots Manuva returns with his fourth full album and the man’s voice and musical vision sounds as fresh as ever on this marvellous, freewheeling summation of his career so far.
Smith’s inspiration for the new record has come from looking back to his roots, the music that moved him even before he heard hip hop. “With this record I was trying to tune into that old Channel One, Studio One aesthetic. Lord knows what they were drinking, smoking or eating or what they were doing or what was on their mind but to me that was a special period in music. Today, with the technology that’s available it’s pretty easy to make generic music, music that sounds like everything else. But to tap into a unique aesthetic, to make a long player that is of its own world is a harder job. How do we make it have an individual sound?”
There’s no shortage of individuality on “Slime & Reason”. While it’s a record that commentators are already comparing to “Run Come Save Me” for its range, depth and impact, everything here sounds as unique, as utterly one-off, as the mind of the man who created it.
Manuva’s own productions range from the skanking carnival anthem “Again & Again,” through the melancholy funk of “C.R.U.F.F.,” the electro-Bach rhythms of “Kick Up Ya Foot,” the lof-fi Gospel of “A Man’s Talk,” the roots stylings of “The Show Must Go On” and the analog-synth attack of “It’s Me Oh Lord.” But as a vocalist, Roots has also been reinvigorated working with young producers Toddla T and Metronomy. There are three Toddla tracks here (including “Buff Nuff,” the first single taken from the album) and they represent some of the funniest, most loose-limbed music Rodney has produced in years. In addition, Metronomy’s “Let The Spirit” is one of the standouts of the record – a gorgeous piece of “blue-eyed” electro-funk which will be soundtracking our lives for a long time to come.
It’s best to let Roots Manuva sum up the fearless, iconoclastic approach to
his music which means he continues to be one of the most vital, exciting and straight-up honest artists working in the UK today. “You got to sing like no one’s listening. You gotta fart like there’s no one there to smell it!”
“Again & Again,” the second single from Roots Manuva’s forthcoming long-player, “Slime &Reason,” is a summery blast of warmth and humour with a simple message to impart – that you don’t have to be a plastic, manufactured ‘Pop Idol’ to make popular music that people are going to love.
While the album version of the tune is built around a classic Manuva production and Captain Pugwash keyboard, the single version was dreamt up by Shy-FX. The man took a day off from drum & bass rollouts and instead added a full horn section and general liveness to get Mr Manuva in laid back, celebratary mood. It’s a carnival anthem in the making but with the kind of easygoing charm that should take Rodney Smith to a much, much wider audience. All without losing any of the soul that has made him one of the UK’s most consistent, innovative and successful black performers.
The package is rounded out by a couple of very fine remixes. The Arctic Monkeys have been on record since their early days as huge fans of Roots Manuva, and when drummer/producer Matt Helders was given an opportunity to rework “Again & Again” he jumped at the chance. The result is suitably wonky and hype, all without a guirar in sight. To finish things up Tony Thorpe has cooked up another fantastic Moody Boyz remix (after recent successes with Erykah Badu and Amy Winehouse) with a militant steppaz feel and enough bass to keep all and sundry happy…
Listen. Then listen again. And again. And again…
Video: Again and Again
1. 2 Much 2 Soon
2. A Man’s Talk
3. Again & Again
4. Buff Nuff
6. Do 4 Self
7. Do Nah Bodda Mi
8. I’m A New Man
9. It’s Me Oh Lord
10. Kick Up Ya Foot
11. Let The Spirit
12. The Show Must Go On
13. The Struggle
14. Well Alright