Review Summary: Trying to find what made him love music in the first place, Roots Manuva heads back towards his roots with this extremely diverse work that ranges from dub, drum n bass, reggae, hip-hop, electronic, and pop.
Roots Manuva’s influences and directions have branched album by album. Roots Manuva first started his debut with darker vibes, then with his sophomore effort came a lighter sound, soon after he would delve into dub, electronic, and drum n bass. Some artists tend to stick with what works, Roots Manuva tries to reinvent or extend himself as much as possible, but his hip-hop efforts are the main catalyst for all of his work. ‘Slime & Reason’, the 2008 effort is Roots Manuva’s 4th studio album to come in after 10 years from his sensational debut. Instead of sticking with one type of atmosphere such as electronic, dub, or reggae he opts for a more diverse repertoire, something that becomes frustrating.
Much of this album features a happier go-lucky Roots Manuva, something that is extremely different in tone and manner for this artist. ‘Awfully Deep’ was depressing, ‘Brand New Second Hand’ brought a dark feel and atmosphere, yet ‘Slime & Reason’ is very poppy and up tempo. Much like his earlier albums Roots Manuva’s best tracks are those that see him throwing his delivery verse by verse in the middle of the tracks, with the beats keeping in pace . “A Man’s Talk” is extremely reminiscent to “Motion 5000”, although distinctly missing the dramatic violin uproars; it still brings in the piano to tread it through with Manuva and the addictive chorus doing most of the work. “Let The Spirit” is something entirely new and different that Manuva has ever tried. The poppy-electro track has a funky bassline that gains its charm from the chorus shouting “Let the spirit move ya, let the spirit soothe ya, let the spirit know ya…”. The chorus compares well with the quick delivery Roots Manuva has seemed to master, a distinct weakness he has hid from many on previous albums. “Buff Nuff” is the album’s biggest single that has a very Jamaican singer along with reggae and electronic eclectic background. Roots Manuva is almost undecipherable in distinguishing where he exactly is. It’s quite happy and upbeat, much like the rest of the album. Unlike most “It’s Me Oh Lord” adds the darker tone we are accustomed too, with electronic buzzes in the background and is a welcomed addition to this album, adding some contrast with the other tracks. The album’s biggest strength and sometimes weakness is the chorus backgrounds that become addictive, “Let The Spirit’s” funky electronic track is extremely fun to listen too, “Buff Nuff” shows a new light into Manuva’s work, and “It’s Me Oh Lord”, “2 Much 2 Soon” both add a darker tone while keeping the synth drenched backgrounds and electronic noises as the album is built upon. Even the heavy drum n bass “I’m A New Man” feels badly placed, but still works with its great pacing with the small changes within the background as Manuva moves forward.
The weaknesses are extremely evident. Many of these tracks rely way too much on their chorus backgrounds, even if they work on some occasions. “Again & Again” is booming with bass and synth and Manuva’s attempts to focus on his verses are all lost because of the surroundings his voice inhibits. “Do Nah Boddi Mi” is extremely loose and out of nowhere type of track. I’m talking about what the hell is this doing here? The particularly Jamaican induced track is odd in its position and use on this album. After the fine effort “C.R.U.F.F.”, “Nah Boddi Mi” just feels irritating in so many ways. The guest appearances within it, albeit not heavy aren’t needed adding towards its lowly nature. “Do 4 Self” is another track that takes its guest appearance (similarily small) and explodes it towards annoyance. Even if it’s one verse: “We do!”, gives me a reason to skip the track in all its irritation.It detracts from the overall mood and sound Manuva tries to bring to the forefront.
Even with these types of problems it’s interesting to see Roots Manuva pull out some new tricks up his sleeve. The positives outnumber the negatives within this album. With every track that induces nauseating guest appearances and outlandish musical choices Roots Manuva finds ways to meld his style with his new approach. He keeps his gospel sound found on previous musical numbers with “A Man’s Talk”, keeps the reclusive feel with “It’s Me Oh Lord, and tries to bring a new sound with the giddy “Let The Spirit”. Roots Manuva’s latest effort shouldn’t be looked at for new listeners, the type of huge variance of genres that spawn across the album can become tiresome and frustrating.