Release Date: Sep 21, 2010
Record label: Big Dada
Genre(s): Electronic, Reggae, Dancehall, Garage, Pop/Rock, Underground Rap, Garage Rap/Grime, British Rap
Ah, a Roots Manuva remix album: that’s brave. Wrong Tom’s gotta have some crazy big cojones: why play around with what for die-hard Roots fans is already production perfection? Or is there another, more cynical motivation? His records already feature a rather large nod in the direction of dub styles, and now that dubstep is oh-so-ubiquitous, the worry is that this is merely an exercise in opportunism, a slaughtering of the cash cow. What exactly are you trying to prove Mr.Tom? For remixes are funny things.
Roots Manuva has come a long way in the last decade. From the bedroom bashment of his debut album, Brand New Second Hand, to consolidating his status as the elder statesman of UK hip-hop on 2008’s Slime & Reason, Rodney Smith has consistently made music both sonically and lyrically engaging. Unfortunately, Caribbean-inflected UK flava works according to its own internal logic.
Roots Manuva has already released a dub version of one of his records – 2002's Dub Come Save Me – and, in 2008, commissioned DJ/producer Wrongtom to produce a bonus disc of dub reworkings of tracks from his fourth LP, Slime and Reason. It was so well-liked, the result is this: a "new" album reimagining some of Rodders's key tracks as entirely new dub/reggae numbers with fresh vocals. So the dubstep crank of Awfully Deep's Chin High becomes laidback, cocksure anthem Chin Up, and the bass-led hip-hop of 1999's Juggle Tings Proper becomes Proper Tings Juggled, based on a 16-bit computer-game reggae beat, and so on.
In 2002, shortly after he released the excellent Run Come Save Me, Roots Manuva followed with the remix record, Dub Come Save Me, which trumped one of his best original LPs to become the seminal LP of his career. Duppy Writer is another remix record, this time with Wrongtom replacing the good Lord Gosh (aka Roots Manuva himself) as main producer. (Additional production is prevalent, though, including Steve Dub, Toddla T, Lotek's Wayne Bennett, and Roots himself.) Though always rooted in dub and reggae, Roots has never had this type of backing in his career, a skeletal, half-step digi-dancehall sound that suits his voice perfectly.
American pop's relationship with Jamaican music has always been superficial. Every five or 10 years, we remember the island nation to our south still exists. We briefly import a few Jamaican crossover acts to lend spice to the charts. We absorb a little of its color into our own music. Then we ….
Accentuates the lolloping Jamaican flex at Rodney Smith’s musical heart. Adam Kennedy 2010 With two years passing since last studio offering Slime & Reason, it seemed the alternative remix-dominated lineage running concurrently alongside Roots Manuva’s regular discography was at an end. Not so fast. Having carved a successful career comparatively rendering most UK rappers tedious amateurs, the eccentric standard-setting south Londoner born Rodney Smith was merely formulating a fittingly inspired angle.