Album: Roots Manuva

Awfully Deep, BIG DADA
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The Independent Culture

This assured third offering from Roots Manuva is a quantum leap on from 2001's Run Come Save Me. He's "back with the venomous eloquence", as he puts it in "Cause 4 Pause", unspooling intelligent ruminations on life in his haughty toasting style, over dry, pumping beats, techno dancehall twitches and spacious dub moves. The theme is the conflict between responsibility and temptation, the birth of his son forcing Roots to consider his ways. "I know I should cut down this drinking/ Too many late nights and wayward thinking/ Compelling a man to plan to shenanigans," he notes in "Colossal Insight", surely the finest rap title ever - unless that's "Awfully Deep", where he rhymes "too much dairy" with "away with the fairies", musing on how life is driving him to the brink of madness. "Sometimes I love myself, sometimes I hate myself," he admits over the stalking string samples of "Too Cold", in which his disdain for money and materialism would surely bear out that madness to most hip-hoppers. But then, he is "the eclectic, known for my eccentrics", more likely to delve into the abyss of despair of "The Falling" or the introspective territory of "Thinking" than slip into standard bling or gangsta clichés: "There's too much truth whenever I get the urge to sing/ More soul, more sin, I reflect within/ I'm a lonely soldier/ Always more composure".