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Roots Manuva's fifth studio album is his most expansive, ambitious and addictive since `Run Come Save Me'. 17 tracks of trademark, next-level, thematic hip hop covering all aspects of Rodney Smith's personality.
CD comes in deluxe, hard slipcase with extra wide digipack and 16 page booklet. Also features two bonus tracks.
One of the most agreeable recent developments in the making of long-playing records has been the rediscovery of brevity. Whether the reasons are aesthetic or cynical, the last 10 years or so has seen a gradual return to the short, sharp 40-minute album after all the turgid, filler and skit-filled self-indulgences of the 1990s. So it was cause for concern when one noticed that the fifth album proper by veteran British rapper/producer Rodney Smith, aka Roots Manuva, featured as many as 19 tracks and ran to just under an hour. Especially because its predecessor, 2008's Slime & Reason, was a somewhat dispiriting affair which sounded like the lugubrious but charming south Londoner had become lost in a world of introspection and self-pity. An hour of dense, low-tempo grumbles about money and disillusion? Not an exciting prospect.
Thankfully, it turns out that 4everevolution is long because Smith seems, since relocating to Sheffield and working occasionally with South Yorkshire neighbour and mischievous dance producer Toddla T, to have hit the richest creative vein of his accomplished career. This outstanding long-player is, by some distance, his best yet, combining the squelchy beats and Brit-Jamaican humour he is known for with a musical eclecticism and experimental joy that is entirely new.
Unlike the traditional hip hop album, 4everevolution sees Smith plus various members of his Banana Klan crew swapping 'real' instruments, mixing them with Smith's trademark, bass-heavy electronics and building tracks that sound spontaneous, completely un-generic and packed with excitement, adventure and optimism. Amongst these tracks, there isn't one that feels superfluous. And Smith's refusal to follow any current trend in pop-rap or urban dance production ensures that every one is a sonic surprise.
There are guest spots - including Skin and Cass from Skunk Anansie on Skid Valley's punchy social commentary, Toddla T on Watch Me Dance, and Australian producers Dizz1 and Monkeymarc on the outstanding Here We Go Again and Who Goes There? respectively - but every collaborator here surrenders to Smith's freewheeling but entirely focused sonic vision. Highlights are the gothadelic The Throes of It; the loose, almost punk-funkish Noddy; the witty, loved-up G-funk of Much Too Plush; and the mutant dubstep of The Path, which showcases the deliciously weird female vocals of new discovery Elan Tamara. And in the synthetic steel-pan ballad Wha' Mek? - one of three tunes in which Smith proves that he's almost as good a singer as rapper - he has a post-Mike Skinner dysfunctional love song that could, perhaps, be the hit single that has proved so elusive to him.
The album also takes in prowling street-rap, upbeat disco throwbacks, reggae and dancehall ragamuffin anthems, Stevie Wonder and George Clinton references a-plenty and a feeling that you've been invited to an all-weekend party in a recording studio with several of the most talented people you'll ever meet. It's a pure, you're-only-as-old-as-you-feel joy to hear British hip hop's most original and inspiring voice hitting his peak as he approaches his 40th year.
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Top Customer Reviews
It's certainly the most musically (and probably vocally) diverse album to date from Mr Smith, it's also the longest (19 tracks including the 2 bonus cuts) and for me, it's the most consistent too with most tracks barely given chance to outstay their welcome by being under 3 mins long, with the noteable exception of 'In The Throes Of It' which weighs in at over 7 mins.
There really isn't a bad track here from the openening few bars of the poppy 'First Growth' to the CD closer 'Bust It' but my highlights at the moment (although these have changed with repeated listens) are the squelching 'Here We Go Again', the skanktastic 'Who Goes There' & the atmospheric 'Revelation' but honestly I could name about 14 of the 19 tracks as favourites including a few, of which my first imprssion was not 'particularly favourable.
Like I said, give it a few listens - it's a grower - but then the best albums often are.
Great variety. After a couple of listens up there with his best. Back to form. Nice cd case for those that still buy CDs!
Deserves to do well but who knows nowadays in x-factor pork chop land.
The musical doodling of Run Come Save Me is gone, as- to a large extent- the introspection that characterised the next two albums. What we've got here is an album brimming with ideas, some of the best lyrics of Roots garlanded career and backed up with some very memorable tunes.
The highlights of the album, for me, Here We Go Again, Who Goes There, Watch Me Dance, Revelation, Go Champ and the way it's followed by the brilliant Get The Get.
Everyone should buy this album, it's brilliant.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not quite scaling similar heights in comparison to the very best of his back catalogue, but lyrically still consistently smarter & funnier than the rest and backed by the usual... Read morePublished on 15 Nov. 2012 by wj armstrong
i love his sincerity. he reminds me of Kate Bush is this sense. what a welcome in my life this album is. first growth is my favorite at the moment. Read morePublished on 16 Jun. 2012 by laaip
This is a seriously good album. I've enjoyed his previous albums, but this is just awesome! So many styles and not a weak tune in sight. Read morePublished on 14 Nov. 2011 by Mr. S. J. Rawsthorne
Yes, Mr. Manuva has done it again. A gem of an album, can't wait to see him on tour next year at the Roundhouse!Published on 2 Nov. 2011 by OJ
Firstly i'm not going to act like a know-it-all music critic, but my creative taste is impeccable ;) , so...
... Read more