Big Dada - 2005 - 52 minutes

Roots Manuva's long-awaited return sees the Stockwell MC taking a tilt at reclaiming the crown of UK hip-hop don.

A long time has passed since his superb second album, 'Run Come Save Me'. The interval has been a fruitful period for Brit rap with Ty, Wiley, Dizzee Rascal, Skinnyman, MIA and The Streets all emerging with exciting, vital releases.

As the others entered the limelight, Roots Manuva crept back into the shadows. He sounds like a man who has been through the mill. "I'm too cold, I'm too old, and it shows, sometimes I love myself, sometime I hate myself," he croons over the jaunty strings of 'Too Cold'. Self-deprecating, bizarre and always infectious, his unique lyrical style effortlessly shows just what we've been missing since 'Run Come Save Me'.

And musically, 'Awfully Deep' could be his strongest offering yet. It might not have a stand-out tune as huge as 'Witness (1 Hope)' or 'Dreamy Days' but the production from long-term collaborator Lord Gosh, Blackitude and Roots himself is consistently good.

This album might not blow away the competition, but the strength of this release leaves little doubt that Rodney Smith has quashed the creative demons that have hounded him.

Luke McManus


Tracklisting: Mind 2 Motion - Awfully Deep - Cause for Pause Pt 1 - Colossal Insight - Too Cold - A Haunting - Rebel Heart - Chin High - Babylon Medicine - Cause for Pause Pt 2 - Move Ya Loin - Thinking - The Falling - Toothbrush