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Roots Manuva

Banana Skank EP

(Big Dada; US: 13 Jan 2013; UK: 13 Jan 2013)

This EP turned up just before Christmas as a nice pre Christmas present for Roots’ fans. Roots Manuva occupies a strange place in the British music firmament. Never quite achieving the level of success (and who knows how you measure that in these straightened days?) or recognition in the wider music milieu. He remains a defiantly singular character, signed to a great label, but refusing, as far as this outsider can ascertain, to play the game. Whatever he does, whatever directions he turns in, you can be sure Rodney Smith is in full control.


Roots Manuva has produced consistently great British hip-hop and been at the forefront, leading the way for other rappers/MCs and hip-hop artists/crews of the UK scene. In some ways his most celebrated song “Witness (1 Hope)” is the stick he has been beaten with such was its startlingly new take on what British hip-hop could be (despite the fact that 1999s Brand New Second Hand LP really showcased his talents) with critics looking to him to simply repeat this formula. Thankfully he chooses not to take this path.


Taken from the 2011 4everevolution LP, The Banana Skank EP does however feel like a holding release between albums. It has the trademark heavy beats and laconic flow of Roots, supported on opener “Natural” by Kope, it is without doubt a quality four-track EP. The Wafa remix of “Banana Skank” is a nice dub/house treatment while “Banana Skank part 2” skips along with a squelchy bass line and closer “Party Time”, again with Kope, is a smokers delight.


Roots Manuva is a class act, but this release just left me wanting more. I guess that is no bad thing?

Rating:

Founder of the Birmingham Popular Music Archive and Exec Producer of the documentary Made in Birmingham: Reggae Punk Bhangra (you may discern a common theme here!) I get way more pleasure than is acceptable from uncovering obscure facts and stories about music from my home city. The sight of some long forgotten band performing on stage, captured in a crappy in 1970's photo, is likely to send me over the edge! In my spare time, I work with some fellow popular music and radio fanatics in the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research at Birmingham City University in the UK.


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