Roots Manuva - Slime & Reason

As if made to answer hip-hop's critics, Roots Manuva's previous album, Awfully Deep, wrestled with such weighty themes as depression and morality. Slime & Reason, relatively speaking, is more of a party record.

Lead singles, Again & Again and the self-explanatory Buff Nuff, are just two tracks here aimed at the dancefloor. The emphasis is on musical experimentation - twitchy beats and bubbling electronics, dancehall, hip-hop - and the scope seems broader than on his last album, perhaps due to collaborating with trendy names Toddla T and Metronomy. Often this draws attention away from the lyrics, arguably one of Rodney Smith's main strengths, and makes you wonder if the album has the focus and depth of its predecessor. There's nothing here to rival the narrative pull of Colossal Insight or Awfully Deep (the track).

That said, with a cover suggesting a self laid bare, warts and all, and track titles such as It's Me Oh Lord and The Struggle you can be assured it's not all frivolity. Smith's voice as ever possesses an unusual gravity, and on repeat listens at least some of his familiar concerns and peculiar English hip-hop phrases (e.g. "they want to tie me to the cross and hurt my gonad") rise to the top.

Overall

7

out of 10

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