Roots Manuva Slime and Reason

If you heard Rodney Smith’s (aka Roots Manuva) last outing, Awfully Deep, you might be mildly surprised to find out he’s decided to release anything new. After all, that record, often adorned in appropriately mournful string arrangements, was steeped in crippling, knee-deep self-doubt that openly bandied about the idea of retirement. However, the UK MC, clearly reinvigorated, has returned with a bit of a spring in his world-weary voice for his fourth full-length. A sense of his mischievously dry sense of humour infects the disc’s first half, buoyed by a noticeably minimalist musical aesthetic. Production from young guns like Yorkshire’s Toddla T has jettisoned the elaborate arrangements and Smith frolics with the inimitably bottom-heavy results on the quake-inducing "C.R.U.F.F.” and the manic "Buff Nuff.” Of course, with Roots Manuva, it’s never all fun and games and towards the end his internal struggles with relationships and fame come to the forefront. His spiritual struggle is perhaps the most enduring and "Let the Spirit” is not only one of the most introspective offerings here but one of the best things he’s ever recorded. Welcome back, Rodney. (Big Dada/Ninja Tune)