Albums: Roots Manuva

Run Come Save Me, Big Dada
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The Independent Culture

Bearing out the promise of his Brand New Secondhand debut from 1999, Run Come Save Me confirms Roots Manuva's position atop the UK's hip hop mountain, a status achieved through a combination of intelligence and individuality that shames most of his rivals.

Bearing out the promise of his Brand New Secondhand debut from 1999, Run Come Save Me confirms Roots Manuva's position atop the UK's hip hop mountain, a status achieved through a combination of intelligence and individuality that shames most of his rivals. Heralded by the recent single "Witness (One Hope)", with its promise of "esoteric texts, most frightening", it's a hugely assured set that manages to fulfil Roots's promise to "stay top-shelf material" without pandering to the dumb gun culture that threatens to distort the home-grown hip hop scene into a second-hand American pantomime of violence. Instead of Glocks, Uzis and Tec-9s, Manuva uses the Braveheart metaphor of thrusting swords into the ground to indicate defiance ("Swords in the Dirt") and drops in unashamedly parochial references to "10 pints of bitter" and "cheese on toast" to further anchor his rhymes in native soil. His themes are universally enjoyable, from the sound-system celebration of "Bashment Boogie" ("simmer down, every posse, simmer down") and the dope anthem "Highest Grade", to the thoughts of a preacher's son bemused by Christian morality in "Sinny Sin Sins". The tone is challenging, leonine and fresh, both lyrically and musically, Roots extending the "wonky beats" of his debut to take in the complex "MacArthur Park" echoes of "Dreamy Days" and the stealth groove of "Join the Dots". From first to last, it's "music for the mindful", as he puts it in "Artical".

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