Hip-hop artist Roots Manuva. Photo by Shamil Tanna
Hip-hop artist Roots Manuva. Photo by Shamil Tanna

Album review: Roots Manuva takes fans to unexplored territory with new album that is brooding and pessimistic



Bleeds

Roots Manuva

(Big Dada)

Four stars

While it’s never really had the cache of its American version, British hip-hop has long had several contenders fit to go toe-to-toe with the best the world has to offer.

For the past 15 years, Rodney “Roots Manuva” Smith has been at the very vanguard of that loose movement. Not that he’s ever seen himself in such geography-constrained terms, as he’s been at pains to point out on previous albums.

Cult hits such as Witness (1 Hope) have endeared him to a fan-base way beyond Blighty, but Bleeds takes him into different territory altogether.

It’s a record that’s dark in a manner that previously investigated – previous missives have been bleak in one sense, in relation to his oft-referenced mental health, but here he takes a look at the world around him and decides he doesn’t have much hope for the future – or, indeed, the present.

The opener Hard B******* is a case in point. Smith rants on the state of Britain's youth with depressing accuracy, its strings-led cinematic thrust juxtaposed against uncompromising lyrical considerations. It's a withering indictment of David Cameron's Britain, observing: "Kids are having kids/ Kids that will never work" who have "all got aspirations but nothing they're supposed to/ The TV and the magazine it keeps it kinda hopeful/ That one day in some way they'll get a lucky break".

Crying continues the downbeat journey, with the claustrophobic beats providing a perfect habitat for Smith's dense rhymes, turning his lyrical cannon onto his own existence, with lines such as: "Trying to tell me I'm paranoid … Trying to tell me about life itself/ When none of you people know me". Facety 2:11 injects some momentum, meanwhile, with its producer Four Tet channelling the Los Angeles crew Odd Future's love for addictively repetitious backdrops.

It's not long until the creeping sense of dread returns, however: Me Up! is truly haunting, as Smith switches to a distorted croon to deliver what at first appears to be a paean to a love affair gone weird, but subsequently seems to morph into a wider rumination on his own meaning of life.

It's heady stuff and adds up to make Bleeds confirmation that, much like the eras of Reagan and Thatcher, times of austerity and political despair can turn up some truly life-affirming music.

aworkman@thenational.ae

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

Despacito's dominance in numbers

Released: 2017

Peak chart position: No.1 in more than 47 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Lebanon

Views: 5.3 billion on YouTube

Sales: With 10 million downloads in the US, Despacito became the first Latin single to receive Diamond sales certification

Streams: 1.3 billion combined audio and video by the end of 2017, making it the biggest digital hit of the year.

Awards: 17, including Record of the Year at last year’s prestigious Latin Grammy Awards, as well as five Billboard Music Awards

Iftar programme at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding

Established in 1998, the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding was created with a vision to teach residents about the traditions and customs of the UAE. Its motto is ‘open doors, open minds’. All year-round, visitors can sign up for a traditional Emirati breakfast, lunch or dinner meal, as well as a range of walking tours, including ones to sites such as the Jumeirah Mosque or Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood.

Every year during Ramadan, an iftar programme is rolled out. This allows guests to break their fast with the centre’s presenters, visit a nearby mosque and observe their guides while they pray. These events last for about two hours and are open to the public, or can be booked for a private event.

Until the end of Ramadan, the iftar events take place from 7pm until 9pm, from Saturday to Thursday. Advanced booking is required.

For more details, email openminds@cultures.ae or visit www.cultures.ae

 

The specs: Lamborghini Aventador SVJ

Price, base: Dh1,731,672

Engine: 6.5-litre V12

Gearbox: Seven-speed automatic

Power: 770hp @ 8,500rpm

Torque: 720Nm @ 6,750rpm

Fuel economy: 19.6L / 100km

The Kingfisher Secret
Anonymous, Penguin Books

FA CUP FINAL

Manchester City 6
(D Silva 26', Sterling 38', 81', 87', De Bruyne 61', Jesus 68')

Watford 0

Man of the match: Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)

Results:

6.30pm: Maiden Dh 165,000 1,400m.
Winner: Walking Thunder, Connor Beasley (jockey), Ahmad bin Harmash (trainer).

7.05pm: Handicap (rated 72-87) Dh 165,000 1,600m.
Winner: Syncopation, George Buckell, Doug Watson.

7.40pm: Maiden Dh 165,000 1,400m.
Winner: Big Brown Bear, Pat Dobbs, Doug Watson.

8.15pm: Handicap (75-95) Dh 190,000 1,200m.
Winner: Stunned, Pat Dobbs, Doug Watson.

8.50pm: Handicap (85-105) Dh 210,000 2,000m.
Winner: New Trails, Connor Beasley, Ahmad bin Harmash.

9.25pm: Handicap (75-95) Dh 190,000 1,600m.
Winner: Pillar Of Society, Pat Dobbs, Doug Watson.

Miss Granny

Director: Joyce Bernal

Starring: Sarah Geronimo, James Reid, Xian Lim, Nova Villa

3/5

(Tagalog with Eng/Ar subtitles)

PROFILE BOX:

Company/date started: 2015

Founder/CEO: Rami Salman, Rishav Jalan, Ayush Chordia

Based: Dubai, UAE

Sector: Technology, Sales, Voice, Artificial Intelligence

Size: (employees/revenue) 10/ 100,000 downloads

Stage: 1 ($800,000)

Investors: Eight first-round investors including, Beco Capital, 500 Startups, Dubai Silicon Oasis, Hala Fadel, Odin Financial Services, Dubai Angel Investors, Womena, Arzan VC