With two years passing since last studio offering Slime & Reason, it seemed the alternative remix-dominated lineage running concurrently alongside Roots Manuva’s regular discography was at an end. Not so fast. Having carved a successful career comparatively rendering most UK rappers tedious amateurs, the eccentric standard-setting south Londoner born Rodney Smith was merely formulating a fittingly inspired angle.
Enter producer Wrongtom, fellow London lad and, until now, best known as a recurring Hard-Fi collaborator, wrestling control for the most cohesive Roots Manuva re-rub record to date. Tom isn’t a complete bolt from the blue: a limited Slime & Reason bonus disc comprised several of his mixes. But this isn’t a simple expansion of that project.
Duppy Writer goes one further than its spiritual predecessors – 2002’s speaker-shaking Dub Come Save Me and 2006 mixes-and-outtakes collection Alternately Deep – slicing apart Slime & Reason alongside choice tracks across Smith’s entire legacy. Wrongtom’s distance from the originals pays dividends, accentuating the lolloping Jamaican flex at Smith’s musical heart and providing a central riff off which almost all 11 tunes – and two skits – sunnily ride.
Nowhere is that single-minded approach clearer illustrated than brand new cut Jah Warriors, featuring toasting Manuva cohort Ricky Ranking and a bobbing bassline straight out of reggae’s top drawer. Other zeniths, meanwhile, chiefly hail from Slime & Reason and an overdue update of debut album Brand New Second Hand’s weed-and-Guinness riddled science.
The latter is verified by Proper Tings Juggled (originally, err, Juggle Tings Proper), classic Smith wisdom concerning "ugly mans on my TV screen" set to minimal Amiga approximations of dub soundsystem riddims. Big Tings Redone (once Big Tings Gwidarn) teleports inner city concerns to a Caribbean beach vibe. And Rebuff suggests Wrongtom knows only already-gleaming gems are worth polishing, Slime & Reason’s ass-shaking lead single Buff Nuff now threatening to transform into a dancehall standard any second.
Never let it be said Roots Manuva isn’t a canny player: while Duppy Writer is sufficiently bubbling to temporarily sate cravings, there’s still scarcely enough nourishment until a new album proper. By then, to half-inch his parlance, you’ll be frigging starving.
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