Music: Hip-hop goes into credible mood

Live: ROOTS; MANUVA THE VENUE, EDINBURGH

ROOTS MANUVA may be the saviour of British hip-hop but in these parts you'd be hard- pushed to pick him out of a line-up. On arrival, he glides in past the audience unnoticed, and have you ever heard of a rapper carrying his own equipment? He's never going to get in with Puff Daddy and the boys pulling stunts like that.

But then his easy-going understated persona is all part of his charm. Roots - his name's actually Rodney - clearly believes that the rap, rather than hip-hop affectation, should speak for itself, a factor that is underlined by a gloriously simple show. He wears one gold necklace next to Puffy's 99 and refrains from using all the usual hip-hop expletives.

Even his two twitchy-looking sidekicks keep the posturing to a bare minimum.

Manuva is one of a growing set of acts - Jurassic 5, Blackalicious, Latryx - who are working to put credibility into British hip-hop, making a sound that owes as much to Jamaican dance-hall as old- school American rappers such as LL Cool J. Such is his standing among his contemporaries that fellow south Londoners, Basement Jaxx, have recently declared it a disgrace that he wasn't nominated for the Mercury Music Prize.

Roots is one of those people that makes it look gallingly easy. His authoritative, mile-a-minute rapping looks as simple as breathing, while his diatribe, delivered in a misleadingly laid-back manner, brims with sharp political observations, and imbues his sound with a sense of urgency.

But best of all his habit of letting friendly chatter enter the rap. At one stage he lets out a small, childlike giggle - something that is usually inconceivable in the realms of hip-hop. This unique delivery, rapping as if he is engaged in conversation, borders on spoken-word performance and makes for one of the warmest and unpretentious rap shows I've ever seen. Unfortunately, the array of influences seen on his beguiling debut album Brand New Second Hand - dub reggae, pneumatic techno and drum `n' bass - are lost in the Venue's murky sound.

An earlier altercation between the support act, Blacka'nized, and the sound engineer - "everybody shout `the soundman's a wanker' "- had done nothing to improve artist-technician relations and the subtleties of Manuva's groove, played out on a pair of turntables, are rendered a distant rattle.

It is up to Roots then to salvage what he can, and he does this through force of personality and the quality of his rap. His loose-limbed basketballer gait makes him move around the stage with effortless grace and his infectious grin and warm banter put you in mind of a seasoned entertainer, not a hard-edged rapper with a social conscience.

But, as he becomes increasingly animated, even Roots cannot resist the odd bit of hip-hop hyperbole. "Big up your shoes, big up your shirts, big up your trousers," he yells. The crowd look at one another quizzically.

Roots may be the fresh new voice of hip-hop but he bears testament to the fact that you can't keep the rapper from his baggy trousers.

Fiona Sturges

Arts and Entertainment
By Seuss! ‘What Pet Shall I Get?’ hits the bookshops this week
Books
Arts and Entertainment
The mushroom cloud over Hiroshima after Enola Gray and her crew dropped the bomb
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Elliott outside his stationery store that houses a Post Office
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Rebecca Ferguson, Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

Film review Tom Cruise, 50, is still like a puppy in this relentless action soap opera

Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams in True Detective season 2

TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

    I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
    Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

    Margaret Attwood on climate change

    The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

    What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
    Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

    The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

    Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
    Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

    Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

    The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
    Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

    Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

    The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
    Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

    Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

    Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

    Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

    The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
    10 best waterproof mascaras

    Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

    We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
    Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

    Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

    Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
    Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
    Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'