More than just the usual collection of random favourites that constitutes most of the mix-tape compilations released in the last few years, Roots Manuva's Back to Mine offers a coherent account of the rapper's musical background, and provides a vivid portrait of British R&B/hip-hop culture over the past few decades. There may be a few American records, but they're decidedly non-mainstream: one old-school cut from Spoonie G & The Treacherous Three, one more recent "conscious" hip-hop track from Atlanta's Dungeon Family collective, and an electro mix of LL Cool J's "Going Back to Cali", presumably chosen for the way it links the early techno-soul offerings from Maze and Mantronix with later electronic pieces from such as Nightmares on Wax. Pivotal in the sequence is Wayne Smith's seminal "Under Me Sleng Teng", which provides a bridge between the techno tracks and a tranche of roots-reggae numbers. The collection climaxes in a run of contemporary 2-step and UK hip-hop from Wiley, Taz, Jimmy Screech and New Flesh.
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