Here's a rare experience: You listen to the new album by one of your favourite artists, and you realise it's their best so far and a work of genius... and you feel disappointed. In the case of the fourth album proper by Roots Manuva, aka Rodney Smith, the feeling doesn't stem from any lack of quality, or any whiff of artistic compromise. In fact, it's precisely the opposite, because, at first, you think this is going to be Smith's great, danceable, ebullient pop album, a record to lift the listener's spirits and give Smith a chance of reaching urban kids who'd be far better off worshipping his Jamaican-Brit wit and squelchy electro-funk than the bling 'n' bluster of American hip hop.
Roots Manuva's introspective, skeletal electro-?skankin' comes back with a vibrant vengeance on his fourth LP, and it truly deserves widespread appreciation. Buff Nuff is just way too much, while C.R.U.F.F. wins the award for catchiest, most ?off-?key, quirky non-?sequitur-?filled funk jam of the fall. The spaceship outro and the Jill Scott-?mangling lyrics ("living my life like it's golden / spinning my dice like it's bowling") slap a smile on your face as you realize it's been too long since Rodney Smith's uncategorizable self was lodged in your music player, warbling his witty woes.
Roots Manuva :: Slime and ReasonBig DadaAuthor: Jesal 'Jay Soul' PadaniaIt's been a little while since Roots Manuva last blessed the album circuit - and his return is as solid as ever. Essentially a fans' favourite (without them knowing it yet), he has distilled pretty much everything he has ever done into his new opus "Slime and Reason." So if anything seems familiar, it is simply because he doesn't stray far from his well-trodden path - although what is immediately noticeable is the relentless barrage of melodies. On every track, you're looking at least three separate winning melodic hooks, and the result is a densely-packed sonic soundscape that takes a few listens to crack, all without seeming like hard work.
The twists and turns of Roots Manuva's career continue, four albums in, to confound and surprise. Last heard journeying into the abyss on Awfully Deep - less an album than an extended dark night of the soul - Slime & Reason constitutes a retreat, of sorts, from the brink. The music is lighter, with Awfully Deep's doomy atmospheres replaced by sparser beats that allow Manuva's voice more space to breathe; electro dancehall producer Toddla T contributes three superbly jittery dancefloor fillers.
Roots Manuva’s fourth full-length of completely new material – Slime & Reason – was released on the first of September in the U.K. The anticipatory singles have been circling the British radio circuit since June. Already out-charting 2005’s debated Awfully Deep, the album is being regarded as a return-to-form for the iconic oddball emcee and producer.