Exciting News – Roots Manuva is playing an all-too-rare these days, show, next Friday 3rd November 2017.
Roots Manuva aka Rodney Smith is dubbed the voice of urban Britain – a poet who generally eschew’s typical rap fare of gangsters, drug dealers and prostitutes in favour of subject matter closer to home “I sit here contented with this cheese on toast” and “With breakneck speed we down 10 pints of bitter”.
His songs are largely biographical, telling tales of growing up in Stockwell (near Brixton, South West London) when it was still a relatively poor area, long before today’s million pound flats, dealing frankly with racism “Don’t go callin me coon, you’ll catch a boot to your jaw”, poverty “…we still stay poor / with that leaky roof dripping on the front room floor” his debut album was called “Brand New Second hand” a phrase that apparently applied to most of their possessions. Growing up with a preacher father “My father was the deacon / he used to stand preaching / I used to to steal collection / I used to catch a beating”, and questioning his teachings “Why should I turn the other cheek and get beat?” and “Can I trust King James to translate these papers? / Do I need a middle-man to link with the creator” as well as making sense of more global issues “Oh blah ra ra the sloganeers / The crocodile pain, the crocodile tears / She dont really need that brand new nose / And he dont really need slave shoes or slave clothes”. Whilst many of his themes are personal, they are also quite universal and most people will identify with them.
It’s well worth reading through his lyric sheets as they stand up on their own as pure poetry – however that’s only half the story, he’s also the master of the catchy tune and he isn’t one to be bound into a single genre either, as he puts it “Calypso dance hall punk step and dub! / New wave old wave genre defying”.
Roots Manuva’s bass-driven, wildly inventive electronic soundscapes span a career of over 2 decades and 6 studio albums. He has collaborated with artists such as The Cinematic Orchestra, Gorillaz, Nightmares on Wax, DJ Shadow, Coldcut and U.N.K.L.E.
His debut album, ‘Brand New Second Hand’ was awarded a Mobo for Best Hip-Hop Act and almost 20 years on, is still revered as one of the most influential UK hip-hop releases. His follow up album ‘Run Come Save Me’ saw a Mercury Music Prize nomination as well spawning his classic track “Witness’ (voted the greatest UK hip hop tune of all time by the readers of Hip Hop Connection).
“It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since this album (Brand New Second Hand) was made. It’s easier to believe that nothing as good as it has ever come out of the UK hip-hop scene.” – Vice
“One of the pioneers of UK hip-hop” Clash Music
“Smith plays wizened street philosopher and mischievous party starter with equal relish” – The Guardian
“Manuva’s unorthodox style is a unique pleasure” Pitchfork
It’s clear there is only one place to be on Friday night: O2 Ritz, Manchester (Also, 2nd Nov – Glasgow O2 ABC)