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March 4, 2012 | by  | in Arts Music | [ssba]

Roots Manuva in Review

When thinking of the UK rap scene names like Dizzee Rascal, Wiley and Mike Skinner usually spring to mind, however lurking on the fringe of it all is the one and only, the indisputable king of cockney rhyme and wordplay, the lounge lizard himself Mr Roots Manuva. Manuva graced our shores again last night, performing at our very own Hunter Lounge, this time with a full 4-piece band in support for his brand spanking new record 4everevolution.

For over 15 years Roots has been creating, developing and preaching his own unique brand of freakish, funky, dub tinged hip-hop. Hailing originally from Banana Hole, Jamaica, Roots a.k.a Rodney Smith emigrated to South London as a child and has been soaking up the vibe and grime of its streets and expressing it through music ever since. His first major release was in 1999 with the critically acclaimed Brand New Second Hand, this was followed by Run Come Save Me in 2001, Awfully Deep, Slime and Reason and now 4everevolution. All of these releases have been under the London based label Big Dada, (In the words of Manuva himself, “it’s not just a record label, it’s a movement.”), which contains many artists of a similar calibre such as Wiley, Diplo and Spank Rock.

Marek and Spell kicked off the evening setting the mood as people continued to pour into the Hunter Lounge, providing some great grinding beats for the kiddies to bop to such as Hey Ma’ by Cam’ron and the next episode by Snoop and Dre. In typical O-Week fashion, people queued like communists for liquor but the $10 Castlepoint jugs made it worth the wait.

Fuelled on cheap liquor, the crowd was jumping and writhing with excitement for Mr. Manuva’s arrival. When he finally took to the stage there was eruption of adoration for the man from South London. He was wearing a doo rag, black shades and a giant black trench coat, the kind of outfit that only a guy like him could pull off without looking like he thinks he’s in the Matrix.

Opening with the pulsating ‘Here We Go Again’ from his new record, Roots then continued to rip through a blistering set-list with songs such as ‘Dreamy Days’, his classic ‘Witness the Fitness’, ‘Let the Spirit’ and the savage chainsaw bass of his closing song ‘Snakebite’. Favourites of night would defiantly have to be the quirky but bad-ass Victorian shuffle of ‘Too Cold’, and ‘Who Goes There’, simply because it got the whole place moving.

To only acknowledge Roots would be stupid, the band that accompanied him should be praised for the explosive sound, energy and vibe they projected. The band consisted of a drummer, an extreme shredder of a guitarist, a keyboardist and a hype man/vocalist, all playing their pivotal part in recreating Manuva’s complex beats live.

Overall Roots Manuva and his cronies gave us a great night to kick off O-Week and the rest of the year with. Everyone there, from first timers to old fans could appreciate his live music; whether you can understand what the hell he was talking about or not, regardless of this Roots Manuva brought the funk to Wellington.


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