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Roots Manuva & Rodney Smith: Brand New Second Hand

Confidence is essential to any verbalist’s career. UK rapper Rodney Smith. the story goes, strode boldly into a recording studio in Brixton records and declared himself “the greatest rapper in the world”. Smith, aka Roots Manuva, may not be the second coming of Rakim, Nas, or Jeru, but that’s kind of nitpicking. Especially considering the head-spinning flavors on his debut album Brand New Second Hand (Big Dada/Ninja Tune BDCD 10, 65:07). Verbally, Smith packs a fair punch, and can come at you from more than one angle. On the disc-opening “Movements”, he drops a style that’s suggests Method Man after a Caribbean bender; ditto for “Soul Decay” which bows to some of the RZAs early abstractions. And, just in case his flow doesn’t hold you for a whole disc, he has loaded the deck with a full rack of cyber-hallucinogenic tracks, from the cosmic keyboard blips that open “Big Things” to the the spacious “Baptism”.

Originally Published