Roots Manuva / Various Back to Mine

Anyone who is familiar with South London’s Rodney Smith, aka Roots Manuva, won’t be surprised to hear that the eccentric MC’s inspirations come from an eclectic array of sources. Proof positive comes in the latest edition of the Back to Mine series that he helms here. Roots Manuva is quick to point out fellow eccentrics (Grace Jones’ "Nightclubbing”) and pioneers (Smiley Culture’s "Shan-A-Shan”), who undoubtedly inform his work. Initially, many of the tracks harkens back to the sounds heard on UK pirate radio in the ’80s. Classic jazz fusion (Maze & Frankie Beverly’s "Twilight”), hip-hop (LL Cool J’s "Goin Back To Cali”) and of course reggae (Wayne Smith’s essential "Under Mi Sleng Teng”), lay the foundations but soon the lines between the genres begin to blur, an area Roots Manuva himself has excelled in, yielding some excellent moments. Omar, the UK’s most consistently innovative soul artist, effortlessly meshes with Spoonface’s broken beat minefield on "She Don’t Know My Name,” and grime artist Taz’s verses on "Can’t Contain Me” are preceded by two minutes of absent-minded scatting over the fractured electro dub rhythms. A logical convergence of many of these styles appears in the irresistible form of Ricky Ranking’s "Cant Trick I,” produced by Roots Manuva himself. A dancehall record with a hip-hop strut, Roots Manuva calls it the "the sound of overstanding lyrically burning the ass crack of Babylon.” Enough said. (DMC)