I thought I’d ‘keep it real’ here and showcase this English rapper. Roots Manuva is from South London, and released this, his debut album in 1999. His website (rootsmanuva.co.uk) says of the album, “He could, after all, have taken the obvious big-money route and hired in a heap of famous guests to make safe, production-line hip hop. Instead he chose to spread the love a little”, by this meaning Manuva has no well known guests or production teams, just his own close people.
This is a great track to start with. Nice slow production, allowing Manuva to just flow over it with ease. Straight away with this first track Roots Manuva will strike you as a unique rapper, in terms of bothhis voice and flow.
2. Dem Phonies
I don’t like this track. Fairly garbage production andlikewise lyrics. Definately a track to skip in future.
3. Juggle Tings Proper
This is more like it. Hardcore beats which heavily rely on bass and drums. English or not, he can prove difficult to understand at times. Good track to bob your head to.
Make sure you got some good speakers for this one, the bass is a killer. One of the albums better tracks, this is a story about Roots’ escapades at a bar he visits on his own.
5. Soul Decay
Good production using a mix of drums and piano’s. This is a decent track in all respects.
Garbage production spoils what is a decent few verses.
7. Strange Behaviour
My favourite track on the album. Heavy bass, good melody and a nice rap about Manuva bumping into a girl he used to know.
9. Big Tings Gwidarn
Again, poor minimalistic production spoil a potential good song.
10. Sinking Sands
A good track. Whenever he is provided with a better beat, the song benefits as a whole as this proves. Great dark production and a good chorus.
11. Wisdom Fall
Another track which relies on drum beat and bass-line to carry it through. More of the same – good rapping, poor production.
A good track which flows along at a nice tempo, and the use of other instruments other than a drum are a welcome sound to the ear!
14. Cornmeal Dumpling
Another decent track but nothing special.
A very good track at last! A speedy piano loop and a keyboard are a good backdrop for this. There is no doubting Roots Manuva’s ability as a rapper.
16. Oh Yeah…
This track wouldn’t sound out of place on an old Wu-Tang album. Dark and hardcore production match the style of rapping nicely. A good track.
17. Motion 5000
Well Manuva goes instrument crazy on this one and gets in an orchestra. A great track not far from the style of Xzibit’s ‘Paparazzi’ track. Nice finish to the album.
Overall, Roots Manuva certainly comes onto the scene in a good fashion. While he impresses with his rapping, style, voice etc, it is the lacklustre production which lets the majority of this debut down. This is not to say the album is bad, just not as good as it could have been. This would have a hard time in America as it stands, but Manuva certainly has potential as a great.
New fans would be better off checking his follow-up album ‘Run Come Save Me’ before getting this.
Score = 3/5