This wasn’t the first Roots Manuva song I ever heard (it probably was his 2001 classic Witness) but it was what got me hooked. At the time, I could only understand half of what the guy was saying. Of course this only added to the hypnotising, prophetic quality of the song, where Roots rants about “Bowling through like there ain’t no tomorrow” to “brave them terrains of pain and deep sorrow” in world with nothing but “madness, microchips and hi-tech war” (coincidentally, the name of El-P’s remix of the song, which is probably not as great as you would expect).
As you can hear (because you are now listening to it and if you are not: bad you! click below) the ominous sounding organ and a gut-turning dub bass sound like the lovechild of King Tubby and the RZA (no homo). It could very well have been the inspiration for El-p’s ‘B-Boys Alpha’ beat on The Cold vein , but really, that’s just speculation. The low-budget video is also reminiscent of early Wu-Tang videos, with the MC looking ODB’ishly confused amidst decaying urban landscapes.
This was the beginning of a typical UK Hip Hop sound that became (somewhat) popular in the early 2000’s, mixing jamaican-tinged rap styles and brooding lyrics with dark dubby beats. Groups boasting a similar sound like Lotek Hi Fi , Gamma and New Flesh for Old made some noise for themselves on the Ninja Tune sublabel Big Dada, but only Roots would grow out to be popular internationally. Still, if you like this, it is worth checking out the album Brand New Second Hand, and all these other artists.
This article is written by ProZak →
The kind of person who talks about himself in the third person, because he heard it shows you have delusions of grandeur. Mom always said he was special, other people have agreed. He has spent so much time in this game of word-production, he is basically inventing them on the spot, to the confuddlement of the peoplery. Proficient in the vocabulary of slang and jibberish, he also speaks Normal fluently.