Sunday, March 27, 2005

33 and a 1/3

Awfully Deep
by Roots Manuva

Roots Manuva is Rodney Smith, a British rapper/producer that came to prominence in the late 90’s. Smith was a breath of fresh air in the hip-hop world deviating from traditional samples while mixing ragga vocals with trip-hop beats. He was quickly labeled the savior of British hip-hop. His first album Brand New Second Hand, like most hip-hop CDs, was one hit and many misses. The one hit, Clockwork is a classic and in my opinion one of the best hip-hop songs ever written. Roots Manuva could have embraced his new found fame and cashed in by pumping out tons of mediocre radio friendly club anthems like his American contemporaries. Instead he barricaded himself in the studio and turned out two very good experimental albums Run Come Save Me and Dub Come Save Me.

After a three year absence, Roots Manuva has returned with Awfully Deep, his best disc. I am not a huge fan of British hip-hop in general. I usually prefer funk beats to break beats. I was weaned on Chuck D’s Bomb Squad and Dr. Dre’s G-Funk. Lately I’ve found myself turning to British hip-hop to get away from the misogynistic club tracks that dominate the American scene. This record doesn’t have that many radio friendly tracks but it doesn’t matter. Almost every track is different with a veritable mélange of beats, sounds and Smith’s clever lyrics. This LP flows very nicely.

Awfully Deep kicks of with two excellent tracks, Mind 2 Motion and Awfully Deep but they are eclipsed by one of best hip hop songs in recent memory, Colossal Insight. Colossal Insight contains a catchy hook and great lyrics about Rodney Smith’s status in the British and American hip-hop game:
This could well and be my last LP,
I’ve had a good run I’ve made a few Gz.
have had a bag of fun I’ve smoked a few trees,
Now I want to rest my wobbly knees,
All in all I’ve been feeling the pinch,
and those bourgeois blacks have been far from convinced,
but I don’t give a damn about UK Rap,
I’m a UK black making UK tracks,
and I got love for everyone of those scenes,
and them pigeon holes were never nothing to hold me.
Name another rapper that uses bourgeois or pigeon holes in a song.

The next track is Too Cold and has one of the catchiest hooks I have heard in a long time. Chin High is another example of using creative lyrics over innovative beats. The song the Falling is a soft dig at the Gangsta life of a thug. It starts with a laidback piano break over some soft scratching before Smith starts in with:
Guns Bitches Hos crack,
death and disease and a baseball bat,
STDs that have no name,
down at the clinic with face full of shame,
Russian roulette with a naked flame,
dangerously slow but in the fast lane,
a big nose bleeding and a bag of cocaine.
British scientists have found what makes a song catchy and labeled it a brain itch Brain Itch This album is loaded with ‘brain itches.’ Rodney Smith is at his musical best on this album, mixing smart lyrics and great beats. Not all of the tracks are great but Smith’s weak shit is better than most of the hip hop heard today. This album should make a ton of best of 2005 lists and deserves it. Go out and buy, steal or borrow this album.

Winamp Worthy: Mind 2 Motion, Awfully Deep, Colossal Insight, Move Ya Loin and the Falling

Rating- Murder 2 (intentional but not premeditated) Penalty 8 – Life; This CD rocks you’ll be doing 8 to life if you don’t give it a listen.


Marc said...

The Bionic zit splitter. The ultimate speaker of truth in a world of posturing. A man who can walk the walk and doesn't give a shit about who is trying to talk the talk. Witness (1 Hope). If you like this you just have to buy Ty - Upwards. You could get them both on the same record with Ty's jaw-droppingly good "Oh You Want More". Get the remix where Rod & Ty come together and bling-bling cunts across the pond that it's about the message and not the size of hummer. Anyway the bigger the car the smaller the package. Fact!

Marc said...

I meant tell the bling-bling cunts across the pond.....

p.s. I've stuck you up as a link on the Beat Symposium now.

BigEll said...

I understand Marc. Thanks for the heads up about Ty- Upwards, I will try and track it down. Another thanks for adding me your always excellent Beat Symposium.