Roots Manuva – Bleeds Review

It’s been 4 years since Rodney Hilton Smith, better known by his stage name Roots Manuva, released his last album ‘4everevolution’ on UK based label Big Dada, but he is back, angry and bitter as ever with his latest offering ‘Bleeds’. Coming in at just over 31 minutes long it is a reasonable short length of time for an album, however it still packs the punch and gritty sounds that Roots Manuva has been praised for since his first release in the 90’s.

‘Bleeds’ opens with a tirade against the free market labels, intense, deep and dark all you would expect from a Roots Manuva track. However looking past the gritty drama of the music and rough vocals Roots Manuva allows his lyrics to talk just as much as the music. Throughout the album there is plenty of interesting, if a little unorthodox, productions, for example the type-writer beat on frenetic, Four Tet produced ‘Facety 2:11’ or the psychedelic trip-hop of ‘Steppin’ Hard’. Throughout the album, looking past the unusual beats, Roots Manuva has managed to retain his wayward worldview and exceptional rhyming skills. His penchant for creative lyrics that delve deeper into his own psyche and views upon the world are still here, all layered on top of the slightly strange beats that have become a stalwart of Roots Manuva’s production. Tracks such as ‘Crying’ make use of baby wails whilst speaking lyrics such as “this world cannot be trusted’. Tracks such as ‘I Know Your Face’ offer a more apocalyptic outlook, entrenched in a darker sound than previous tracks with a paranoid wariness. Tracks such as ‘Fighting For?’ the last on the album, have a much more minimalist feel than previous tracks on the album, a focus on Roots Manuva’s lyrical prowess and lyrics seem to be taking precedent whilst still retaining the production values that run throughout the album.

As ever though the core values, both lyrically and production based, are still there, the feeling of an underlying anger lingers under many tracks without ever being the underlying message throughout the album. Roots Manuva manages to deliver an album full of gritty, dark lyrics all underpinned by slightly unorthodox beats.

Roots Manuva – Bleeds = 8/10

Matthew Kay

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