Roots Manuva - Awfully Deep (+ The Noodle Pack bonus CD)

There could hardly have been a better time for South London's Roots Manuva to return with his third album. Eyes now seem to be on UK hip-hop, arguably more credible than its US equivalent, and, with various colloquialisms - plus a mention for Jimmy Saville -, Awfully Deep frequently lives up to the Englishness of its creators real name, Rodney Smith.

However, this is a record that paints a bleak picture: of the temptation to unemployment, drugs and violence; of Britain's inner cities gone the way of American ghettos. Smith's words are agile and delivered with authority. "STDs that have no name/ Down at the clinic with a face full of shame.../ A big nosebleed and a bag of cocaine.../ Caught my best friend sleeping with my girlfriend.../ Now I'm thinking of a way to get them slain" he raps on standout track The Falling. There's no glamourisation of crime here. Neither are any easy answers offered to social ills. Smith often appears to suggest only strength of character will get you through life.

Sonically, the most interesting moment is A Haunting. With simmering tribal drums and the call of what seems to be a lone trumpet, it's also the album's most rootsy track, the majority of Awfully Deep being a mix of heavy bass and electronics. The limited edition comes with a bonus CD, which is worth getting for an acoustic version of Colossal Insight.

Slightly older, slightly wiser, and with an edgy-yet-rounded sound, Roots Manuva can hold himself amongst the UK urban scene's rising stars. Make some room.

Overall

7

out of 10

Last updated: 29/05/2018 07:28:53

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