Roots Manuva

Run Come Save Me

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Just when the British hip-hop community seemed on its last legs, the victim of an over-powerful American marketing machine, Roots Manuva hit the stratosphere with his second record, the nearly Mercury prize-winning Run Come Save Me. A stunning record, it balanced the stark digital soul of British ragga with lurching beats, and Rodney Smith's star-making delivery and wide-ranging repertoire. "Witness (1 Hope)" earned its place as the best British rap single since Tricky's "Aftermath," while "Bashment Boogie," "Hol' It Up," and "Artical" were distinctive, hard-hitting, surprisingly groovy performances. As on his LP debut, Brand New Second Hand, Smith also spent time reflecting on his religious upbringing, with a distinctly unhumorous track ("Sinny Sin Sins," never mind the title) that dealt with his heavily disciplinarian father. And where the productions on debut sounded thin and tame, for Run Come Save Me he hit another level entirely with tracks by either Bennett or RM himself, whose Blow's Yard Studio quickly took its place next to New York's legendary D&D Studios as a home to distinctive underground rap. Roots Manuva handled every type of song with flowing confidence and a bemused air, whether it was a club jam or a message track.

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