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A Magazine for Sheffield


Roots Manuva is a name synonymous with hip hop in the UK. Forever changing and evolving his sound, his latest release, Bleeds, sees him working with the likes of Four Tet, Adrian Sherwood and young British producer Fred.

Covering everything from class and addiction to the benefits of a good cry, lyrically Bleeds is more of what you’d expect from Manuva. Tongue-in-cheek wordplay mixes with reflections on society and the personal psyche, a reaction to what he calls “today’s climate of get money, get laid, get high”. The sheer simplicity of the production on tracks like ‘Facety 2:11’ and ‘Stepping Hard’ couldn’t work better with this lyricism, the beats allowing the subject matter to come through and his delivery to shine.

If you listen to Roots Manuva for the bars, then it’s hard to fault Bleeds, but on occasion the production seems confused. ‘Hard Bastards’, with its string-heavy beat and anthemic chorus, won’t be to everybody’s taste. Neither will ‘Cargo’, a song about which the man himself says, “I’ve never played a stadium but I always thought I better have a stadium song, because one never knows what might come up in future.”

Bleeds is by no means a bad album. The lyrical content and Manuva’s ability to deliver it can’t be faulted. Tracks like ‘Fighting For’, with its strained chorus and piano loops, and the Barry White-sampling ‘Don’t Breathe Out’, are reminders of how good he can really be. It just means it’s even more of a shame when the production of some tracks lets this songwriting down.