Roots Manuva - Alternately Deep
Typically one might avoid releases comprising "Downloads, B-sides and Exclusives", the assumption being the material is not good enough to make a proper album and worth the attention of completists only. Alternately Deep, drawn from the pool of tracks worked on for Awfully Deep, is something of an exception. Although not as memorable, it has a similar feel and is definitely more than a record company money-spinner.
No Love again has the sense of being delivered from the psychiatrist's couch, continuing the theme of the struggle between a life of mischief and one of meaning. It also showcases some fine lyrics; from describing himself as "long time loony, black George Clooney" (presumably with a knowing wink) to casually dropping in the word "todger", Rodney Smith keeps us enthralled. Indeed, one of the pleasures of Roots Manuva is encountering phrasing you would never hear on an American hip-hop record. The man can even drop in a "luvvly jubbly" without losing any authenticity.
Alternately Deep packs a decent sonic punch too. Seat Yourself and Check It are urgent and bass heavy, Mean St has an obvious Indian influence, and the Jammer mix of Colossal Insight, bearing no relation to the original that I can hear, veers into grime territory.
There is filler here, admittedly, but as a mid-price release Alternately Deep can confidently be recommended to hip-hop fans looking beyond the bling.