Roots Manuva

Badmeaningood 2

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A mix album from Stockwell's most prominent steppa should rightly be welcomed by anyone with an appreciation for quality hip-hop. And despite breaking up his mix with a flair that might throw a crick in a few necks, Badmeaningood, Vol. 2 displays the former Rodney Smith's talent for spotting a perfectly distinctive track. Flavors from the British West Indies are, unsurprisingly, the spice of this mix, with Smith moving smoothly from third wave ska chestnut "Mirror in the Bathroom" by the Beat to updated ragga from the Greensleeves label to street-level, speaker-rattling drum'n'bass (Bad Vibes & Potential Bad Boy) to a dubbed-up horn masterpiece from Sugar Minott. Hip-hop rules the last half of the record, flanked by a trio of colliding classics -- Eric B. & Rakim's "Follow the Leader" works well melting into N.W.A.'s "Straight Outta Compton," but Soul II Soul's "Keep On Movin'" should only have followed those two on a Billboard compilation. Close to the end comes a cover of the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine" by the least-likely-to Roots Manuva himself. While fans of the best rapper in British hip-hop can easily be forgiven for expecting him to pull it off, it doesn't quite come -- yes, it's certainly as bizarre as expected, but except for a cellar-level production and an apocalyptic chorus, it's one of the few tracks here that doesn't work. Extra points, however, to Smith for admitting in the liner notes that Fallacy & Fusion's massive "The Groundbreaker" is "one of the first British tunes in a while that really scared me. It kind of made me feel a bit vulnerable."

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