Artist: Roots Manuva
Album: Run Come Save Me
Label: Big Dada
Rating: 7.5 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Roots Manuva returns to the fray after his debut album “Brand New Second Hand” was received with critical acclaim. He’s described this follow up as “a patchwork reflection of the bittersweet-tainted joys and pains of progress – a declaration of good hearted ghetto hoorah joyous intent.” BUT IS IT DOPE? Lets find out…
1) No Strings
Exactly the opposite of what the title says, this is a little minute and a half intro, with nothing but strings. Nice, mellow, but not really necessary.
2) Bashment Boogie
I ain’t really feeling this track, and its not a great selection for an opening cut on the album. A lot of the beats on the whole album reflect the influence reggae has had on Mr Rodney Hylton Smith, but this one is just not keeping me interested.
3) Witness (One Hope)
Now this is more like it. Already reviewed and receiving a 5/5 rating in the singles section, this track is fantastic. A rumbling bassline, and a grip of electro effects dropping all over the place, matched with Roots’ on-point delivery makes this an instant classic.
4) Join The Dots
Keeping the momentum going, Join The Dots features the talents of Jurassic 5 member Charli 2na, alongside Roots. A fast paced beat… a real head nodder, with a dope flute loop on the chorus. One of the outstanding tracks on the album.
5) Black Box Interlude
A needless 20-something second interlude. Skip it.
6) Ital Visions
Kinda dull beat here. Siren-type horny sounds flying in and out of the mix, with a simple beat and bassline. Not a bad track, but compared to the previous two, average at best.
7) Kicking The Cack
I don’t like this at all. I know that hiphop music is unique in that its always pushing back boundaries and experimenting with new styles, but if one of the experiments is to wail in a drunken fashion throughout the track, I think I’ll pass.
8) Dub Styles
I love this as much as I don’t like the last track. Pure “rub-a-dub” style here – a real reggae influenced beat, with Roots delivery matching the track perfectly. This is hype.
9) Trim Body
Not the first track on the album to have this “dark” production vibe stamped on it. A haunting string-type sound, and a sparse snare and really all that feature here. Another experimental track… more drunken styled wailing here. Another track to skip.
This track kinda reminded me of Krs-One’s ‘Black Cop’. An improvement from the last track, but still nothing to REALLY write home about.
11) Hol’ It Up
Another reggae influenced track, this one features Riddla with a pretty nice verse dedicated to his “boys who Hassle banks like Jimmy Floyd, Natwest, TSB, Lloyds.” UK references that the rest of the world might not even understand but that had me smiling.
12) Stone The Crows
Very laidback track, with organ type effects lingering in the background. Roots questions his place in society and how he lives his life – “Should I really be here, should I really exist / Should I take these drugs / Should I get so pissed?” Also holds the funniest line of the album – “I dance with hippy chicks more madder than Lizzie.” UK heads can feel this… Love this cut.
13) Sinny Sin Sins
Another laidback track – this time Roots gets autobiographical on us, telling us the story of growing up with religious parents trying to force their views onto him. This was actually something I could relate to a little, as my points of view are similar to the ones expressed in the song. “Its not my meaning to demean or blaspheme, but most things in the bible ain’t as plain as they seem.” This one gets the thumbs up.
14) Evil Rabbit
Weird title for a weird track. Another dark and dangerous beat – another wicked delivery from Roots. Horrible rambling chorus though.
15) Swords In The Dirt
Not just track of the album, but a contender for track of the year. Roots is aided by the skills of Falacy, Rodney P, Ebu, Big P, and Skeme over one of the best beats I’ve heard for a long time. Rodney P delivers a cool verse, the only criticism being its shortness… “You’re yet to see the best of P / You believe I smoke too much weed, thats guaranteed.” With a dope female chorus and scratches from DJ MK, this is butter. Straight up.
16) Highest Grade
Anything after ‘Swords In The Dirt’ would be a little bit of a comedown, and thus its proved with this little “drug ballad”. Not a bad track at all, but after rewinding the previous track half a dozen times, this just doesn’t come close.
17) Dreamy Days
Aptly titled closer… is this a harpsicord on here? A cool female hook, and a laidback rhyme from Roots. This also uses the strings from the intro track. A cool way to close the album…
I think the album definitely suffered a little by the inclusion of some sub-par tracks in the middle. The fact that the good tracks were REALLY good, meant that the poorer tracks were even more visible. Its a good album, but with these tracks on it, and kinda hindering my enjoyment a little, they stop it being a great album.