Artist: Roots Manuva
Album: Awfully Deep
Label: Big Dada
Rating: 7.5 / 10
Before I start, I’m warning you, I’m biased. Roots is my favourite solo artist to appear in the last ten or so years. Once in awhile you find an artist that you can relate to totally. I’ve met the dude a few times, seen him live many times, and even bought him a drink on his birthday. Rum and Coke. But ignoring that, let’s get to it !!
The return of the Roots-Fi. Yes indeedy, over the six years since his debut release, “Brand New Second Hand”, Roots has established himself as one of the few versatile artists to compliment any genre he’s chosen to experiment with. Now, once again we are treated to a unique trip inside the mind of the Bionic Zit Splitter.
‘Awfully Deep’ displays the eclectic talent of the shy and humble MC perfectly. New to fatherhood, you might expect some more personal touches, but Rodney is no Eminem. That’s a good thing by the way. Unfortunately there are no ‘Sinny Sin Sins’ on his mind this time but there are plenty of the usual Roots-isms to discover. The first to instantly entrap you is the opening track, ‘Mind 2 Motion’. Starting strong with an underground bass line that conjours up imagery of a mass jungle rave, complete with Tarzan and Ace Ventura gettin’ down and grimy. Lyrics are absolute fire as you’d expect and Roots rides the rhythms better then anyone, particularly, and viciously manipulating his voice to the max’ for the chorus. Probably the greatest intro song to an album I have heard in years.
“I reflect from the pages from the book of my soul,
my table of content, written in code, and it shows
in my cryptic displays of deadpan”
“respect is due to the flames on my chest
proceed with hot steps increase my prospects, rebel I stay vex,
big hungry belly and some stinkin’ breath,
back to back make it we chase those cheques”
On his last two full albums Roots has opened strong and then followed with a bashment style track. This time it’s more an electronic offering on the title track, ‘Awfully Deep’. A twisted mind trip that explores paranoia and the world of personal insanity. The word cosmic would some this up perfectly, well worth a trip if yer mind is ready. A couple of interlude’s are spread evenly throughout. ‘Cause For Pause Pt 1’ features a late introduction to the LP from Manuva, taking a well earned breather. Despite the nasty beat in the background, he criminally let’s it go to waste, but thankfully redeems himself on pt 2. Time for the lead single, ‘Colossal Insight’ is a nice offering. Not yer usual hip hop release to please the regular hip-hop heads. As ever Roots pops his unique personal look at the music industry. I’m sure you’ve heard it by now, it’s definitely a grower.
The whole album comes across just as you’d expect. Very versatile. The head nodding ‘Too Cold’, with it’s catchy chorus and instrument-filled bounce, could be comfortably transferred to a West End stage. No lie, it could be done. I’m serious dammit. ‘A Haunting’ is the beautiful result of drugs, surely. A speedier paced sub-based groove which Roots glides over with ease in spoken word style. I can’t think of anyone else who would dream of making songs like this. Luvly jubbly Roots-Fi. ‘Chin High’, argues with the opening track for the standout of the album. The electronic sounds return alongside a dark bass line which ALWAYS suits Roots perfectly. Here he speaks on the dark elements we deal with in our daily life, but to suck it in and keep your chin up.
“the misled mislead, effected by the greed,
government man keep fightin’ down the weed,
while they boost up the booze the prozac and methadone,
use the taxpayer’s money to develop their clones
misinformation, mass sedation,
nation’s baiting for spiritual raping”
Add a few Reggae and Bashment tracks, some self reflection and social commentary to top it all off and once again Roots Manuva delivers an impressive, eclectic and original third release from the South Londoner. The only negative I can comment on, and it’s not really a threatening criticism, is that there is always two or three absolute standout tracks that steal your attention away from the others. See, I told you it wasn’t that bad but hey, I also told you I’m biased!! Enjoy…