review: Roots Manuva – Alternately Deep
Roger Smith aka Roots Manuva has one of the most distinctive flows in hip-hop. Though being a West Indie Brit has something to do with it, he does have a staccato rapid fire vowel swallowing chant that makes him stand out among his MC peers. He often flows over minimalist beats, that if perhaps not the most listenable music, perfectly compliments his style. If his records are not always so accessible t’s because his music is on the cutting edge of rap beats, though that hasn’t stopped him from becoming one of my favorites in the game. The latest LP, Alternately Deep has Manuva returning more to his original style. After last year’s release saw him going off on some very interesting personal rants about his three year absence from the UK charts ( a Dave Chappell style disappearing act ) backed by less interesting two-step mixes. Though he’s always had a few cuts that paid due respect to London’s flourishing club scene (that manages to mix better with rap than does the American club music) an entire album of that was just annoying.
A Manuva LP will likely always be an adventure. He explores all genres here, too, like “Nobody’s Dancing,” which recalls the mid-80’s heyday of Brit dance pop ( reemphasizing the influence of Caribbean sounds on pop music in those days). The dub influence is back in full force (“Seat Yourself,” “Check It,” “Colossal Insight”) and the trippy trip-hop styles (“Pep My Game,” “Grown Man,” “Mean St.”).
This is a record for purists and those who miss Tricky. Nothing as good as “Soul Decay,” but what is, really?