Monday, January 02, 2006

Number 39 - Roots Manuva

Too Cold (Big Dada BDCDS078)
Chart debut: 2nd April 2005

Writers: Rodney Smith/Ralph Lamb/ Andrew Ross

The only record I'm including from 2005 in this selection: which isn't to say that it's the only record I liked last year, it just fits. Rodney Smith (you can see why he needed a stage name!) became about as big a star as an underground UK rapper could with his second album Run Come Save Me, and by the start of 2005, after the Streets and Dizzee Rascal had made names for themselves he looked set for a big breakthrough.
It hasn't quite happened yet, but the year did bring him his first Top 40 singles chart action with 'Colossal Insight' and this slightly surprising track, built around what sounds remarkably like a sample of the Dance Of The Nights from Prokofiev's Romeo & Juliet although unlike Sia's 'Taken For Granted' the usage wasn't sufficient to require a credit. Over this, Manuva raps with his typical humour about the dangers of Mammon, though he can't resist the boast "I touch breasts with my money". And here's a line you don't often hear in a rap track "I ain't the best MC..." though he does claim "I got certification I'm the first MC" which I doubt would stand up in court. He even denies being the saviour of UK rap, which possibly reflects the pressure he felt in the previous years: the title track of the Awfully Deep album is a darkly joking account of his mental health problems.
The CD single itself is as decent a value-for-money package as can be expected: 'Too Cold' itself appears as a Radio Edit (like the album version but shorter and with less swearing) and remixed by Sa-Ra, Nightmares On Wax and the Go! Team. I'm not typically a fan of remix packages, but these get bonus points for sounding very different from each other, with the Go! Team one a particularly impressive lo-fi recasting, hitting the spot for me where their own records never have. There's an admittedly dispensible B-side, plus the video starring - ahem - Lord Manuval in an 18th century setting with comedian Jim Tavare as his butler, as well as a little game which allows the listener to create their own remix. And if that doesn't sate your appetite for different versions of the song, look out for the dub version on the 7" and the demo on the limited edition version of the album. Speaking of which, here's a little exclusive for you: the Hit Parade Mix of 'Too Cold'. For evaluation purposes only, of course.

YouTube if you want to: promo video
Where to get it: Although the album isn't quite the masterpiece that might have been hoped for, it's still well worth having for the singles and 'The Haunting' alone. Alternatively, grab the single if you still can. The remix companion release Alternately Deep offers the B-side 'No Love'.

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