Slime And Reason
In the hip hop Olympics Roots Manuva has always been Team GB's only hope - and since his remarkable debut Brand New Second Hand in 1999 he has continued to produce brutally honest work that - while encompassing hip hop, dub, ragga and funk- manages to sound essentially British, but at the same time different from all other sounds that trickle from the UK hip hop scene. His 2001 follow-up Run Come Save Me saw Rodney Smith gain wider acclaim being nominated for a Mercury Music Prize and took the dark subtleties of BNSH and mixed them with a new found penchant for the 'pop hit'. Lead single Witness was voted greatest UK hip hop tune of all time by the readers of Hip Hop Connection. In 2005 came the the introspective Awfully Deep which, while receiving its dues in musical acclaim, was largely misunderstood by Smith's gathering throng of fans.
Thankfully Slime And Reason is unlikely to suffer the same injustice and is a dazzling return to form for our reluctant hero. Trying to narrow down this emcee's strengths is something of a challenge. He's done more than most for UK hip hop and yet his beats need only the slightest nudge to stray from their hip hop root. He can hit us with a crowd pleaser like Witness then retreat into the introspective shadows for the rest of the record. Despite his success his rhymes are laced with the insecurities of the common man and so as a result he's able to counteract his critical acclaim with the kitchen sink wit of a hip hop Morrissey. Slime And Reason incorporates all these contradictions and is a marvelous summation of his career so far. It plunges into the textured depths of Run Come Save Me while tapping the money-making hit machine of Witness to a fuller effect. The beats crunch with electro futurism and yet this album more than most draws on a sound of old.
The record seems to be divided into 2 halves and each half draws on a different source. The Jamaican record label Studio One provides the sonic source material with a grass roots dancehall flavor running through much of the first half of the record. This is where the carnival atmosphere is created and by track 7 we've been given more hands-in-the-air but shakers than on all his albums combined. Opener Again & Again is a ramshackle celebration of Smith's inspirational roots with its looped brass section sample bobbing to the swagger of the rhythm. Do Nah Bodda Mi is a stand out moment here and is almost certainly set for dance floor greatness this summer. Produced by dancehall maverick Toddla T, it's a no holds barred romp featuring lightning guest vocals and contrasted monotone Smith rhyming. Buff Nuff assumes a similar tempo and is as shameless as things are ever likely to get. Sadly this song suffers greatly under the shadow of the recent Flight Of The Conchords song Boom - and together with Smith's attempts to entice a female by offering her a lift on the handlebars of his push bike, this song is virtually impossible to take seriously.
The second half draws on his hip hop influences and is a lot less fun and with songs like It's Me Oh Lord it does tend to get bogged down in its seriousness. However, this contrast is what we love about this emcee. He really has a lot to say which, in this genre, can sometimes be a rare thing. We see his bare boned insecurities about success and money in 2 Much 2 Soon and the trials of a family man reduced to a "long streak of piss" nursing a "lethal concoction" in a local pub. Well Alright with its examination of Manuva's place in the music business and The Metronomy produced Let The Spirit are two of the best and most worthwhile tracks on here and will be the songs that take this record back to the greatness of the debut.
The album begins with Again & Again's line "A lot of people don't know about Smith, how I came to the scene and came to uplift" and ends with the subdued The Struggle. With bookends like this its easy and yet curious to see Smith's sense of vulnerability in this life and this business. He's been a household name in hip hop circles across the world for some time now and this fourth installment can only project him more into people's consciousness. But his charm and lasting appeal may well reside in the fact that no matter how big this album gets it will always be a case of "The struggle continues on".
27th Aug 2008 - Tumblr3.5
You Don't Know
Throw away Breaking Bad expansion piece with little tension or jeopardy.
13th Oct 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
Stylish but incoherent Cheney biopic, hampered by another one-note turn from Bale.
5th Oct 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Mind numbingingly basic biopic, saved by the nostalgia for the music and moments.
5th Oct 2019Read more 2 star reviews
Interesting doc following the lives of 3 teens becoming adults, tied together by skateboarding.
28th Sep 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Painful, occasionally uplifting viewing with a grief stricken central performance.
28th Sep 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Into the Spider-Verse
Stylish, trippy concept animated superhero flick with some great moments.
21st Sep 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Young adult upgrade, with just enough Conchords humour to keep it enjoyable.
22nd Aug 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
Decent Aussie surf drama, that nostalgically investigates the soul of surfing before losing i… https://t.co/qW3B55bCcG.
14th Aug 2019Read more star reviews
Somewhat unremarkable, but enjoyable music drama. Bit long.
13th Jul 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Predictably grim seaside coming-of-age indie. Decent enough, but you’ve seen it before
13th Jul 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Stylish sequel, hampered in places by some authentic 1960s pacing.
30th Jun 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Out-there kids fable with an old school Tim Burton vibe.
16th Jun 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Rock solid 90s style indie movie. Beautifully assembled at all levels.
31st May 2019Read more 4 star reviews
Fairly one-sided Police doc about the seemingly dislikeable trio.
7th May 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
Decent, but slightly muddled parenting indie.
28th Apr 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Forgettable re-imagining of a not totally unforgettable Disney classic.
27th Apr 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Solid stop-motion animation that’s light on plot, but high on charm.
12th Apr 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
Surprisingly stylish sequel that drops the ball in classic straight-to-VHS style halfway through.
6th Apr 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Opaque Alaskan thriller from Jeremy Saulnier, with little regard for convention.
1st Apr 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Low key indie spin on Rambo, as a father and daughter try and live off grid.
28th Mar 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Fun biopic that runs out of steam about when the band did.
25th Mar 2019Read more 3 star reviews
A diminished remake of Deadpool 1. Occasional LOLs.
25th Mar 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
High concept sci-fi that stretches its concept a little thin.
19th Mar 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Unremarkable, cliche-ridden actioner. Utterly lacking in suspense.
17th Mar 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
A disjointed patchwork of homages, nods and rip offs from dozens of other movies, with little to offer of its own.
11th Mar 2019Read more 2 star reviews
Laborious, high-concept alien horror. While the concept is good, the beats are all well telegraphed.
2nd Mar 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Witty, if a little obvious, post-meta rom-com.
1st Mar 2019Read more 3 star reviews
The Second Part
It’s literally a re-hash of all the themes of the first one with a few less jokes.
23rd Feb 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Slight, but sometime engaging iPhone feature.
26th Jan 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Decent modern spin on Mary Poppins. Bit uneven, but a nice soundtrack helps things along.
20th Jan 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Bog standard entry into The-Rock-action-movie genre. As much personality as a computer game.
3rd Jan 2019Read more 3 star reviews
This time it’s really, really serious. Seriously.
27th Dec 2018Read more 3 star reviews
It’s a musical ...but slick direction makes it just about bearable.
24th Dec 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Pop-culture bouillabaisse, hampered by numerous terrible accents.
24th Dec 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Pacey, emotional, old-fashioned indie pic. Beautifully observed.
15th Dec 2018Read more 4 star reviews
Surprisingly underwhelming biopic that doesn’t find its feet until 20m from the end.
24th Nov 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Utterly derivative / thoroughly enjoyable ‘Heat’ rip off.
21st Nov 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Well crafted character study, with some nice touches.
10th Nov 2018Read more 4 star reviews
Brutal revenge thriller. Stylish and violent, with plenty of explanation left to the imagination.
4th Nov 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Intense indie drama from Netflix. Impeccably acted and directed.
27th Oct 2018Read more 4 star reviews
Disappointingly unoriginal superhero movie, complete with dull CGI action.
27th Oct 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Continually clichéd rock romance that never breaks into originality.
13th Oct 2018Read more 1.5 star reviews
Dry Morrissey biopic that gets arty by avoiding using any Smiths songs.
7th Oct 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Decent rehash of vintage indie movie tropes.
7th Oct 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Mumblingly wordy western that’s big on self-importance and low on drama and tension.
25th Sep 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Muddled biopic with occasional moments of eccentric comedy madness.
22nd Sep 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Like a long episode of Girls that’s all about one of the more boring characters.
16th Sep 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Slightly confused slice of post-Michael Mann LA crime.
7th Sep 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Sympathetic retread of Single White Female, with added #hashtags.
26th Aug 2018Read more 3 star reviews