Roots Manuva - Interview

08 March 2005

Roots Manuva

Roots Manuva - Interview

Roots Manuva is back from the colossal success of ‘Run Come Save Me’ with his new album ‘Awfully Deep’. Roots Manuva’s blend of hip hop with a distinctive British feel and strong Jamaican roots is pushing boundaries and pushing urban music as a whole. He is a pioneer, King of the Underground and national British treasure. I had the good fortune to interview the man.

How’s the tour going?

“It’s going good man. People are really taking to the full band. We get to see a few people before the gigs. I saw George from Nightmares On Wax when we played Leeds and I’ll be seeing Low Tec when I’m in Birmingham”.

So are you going to Europe?

“Yeah man. We’re going to Germany, France, and Switzerland. We’ve toured there before. It’s cool. My profile is not as big as it is in the UK so it’s kinda’ like going back to basics again. It’s good”

How about the USA?

Roots Manuva - Interview
Roots Manuva - Interview

“Yeah we’re going to a festival in Austin. It’s a rock n’ roll festival so I don’t know who we’ll be playin’ with”.

What MC’s are you rating at the moment?

“Loads of people from Rodney P to Black Twang, Carl Hime, Task Force, Skinnyman”

How do you see things evolving for black artists at the moment?

“The road is long. Considering the amount of development that’s come from the old sound systems, old pirate stations that embraced the full spectrum of the culture, we have given it some exposure. I think we need to become a bit more self-sufficient. It takes time for these things to develop. There are people in the grime scene that are testing the market. They’re not begging on record company doors instead they’re sending out white labels. We need to embrace the whole spectrum of black music. Like British reggae is absolutely nowhere. There is no British reggae section in the record stores”.

How do you find inspiration?

“There’ s a whole range of thinkers and speakers from Chuck D to the Last Poets to Linden Kwesi Johnson to Jazzy B and Soul II Soul who fed me all these years. I can take inspiration from a drunk guy on the street. I take inspiration from everywhere”.

How do you take time to relax?

“I’ve got a son who kinda’ keeps me busy. I do a bit of riding(pushbike). We go to the park”.

What do you think of UK Hip Hop at the moment?

“I don’t know what the hell UK hip hop is at the moment. I don’t know what it is. I mean you’ve got Robbie Williams rapping on one of his tunes. Is that UK hip hop. There’s people like Estelle, Goldie Lookin’ Chain they represent. It’s not specific to UK hip hop man, it’s just hip music, but people package it and put labels on it. Back in the day there was nothing. Majors couldn’t get their head around music with rapping on it, but now it’s changed. But that word UK hip hop, it’s a dirty word”.

It sems a lot of hip hop that’s out there now is more acceptable without having a certain ‘realness’ to it. Do you think it’s hard to maintain that originality?

“Well it’s hard man. They feed them MTV, certain radio shows. It’s hard to shut them out of your system”.

Are there other musical styles that you like?

“Yeah I quite like Radiohead and Turin Brakes, all sorts man”.

How about the album, was that pretty tough to do?

“It was tough as in I wanted to do more than just write songs. I wanted them to have there own audio ecology. I wanted to try mess around with the technology more. I wanted to use the voice as an instrument. I wanted to switch the meter away from the drum and the snare to the creaky door”.

Did you have any problems dealing with the success of your last album?

“Not really. I could have done the same thing again but I wanted to approach it more as a traditional album that holds it’s own contained universe. It’s supposed to be a journey that you have to try and get through. People say to me there is a story coming through which hasn’t been mapped out, it’s just kinda happened. I’m trying to be as crazy and innocent as possible”.

Who would you collaborate with alive or dead?

“Loads of people. Like that girl from the Cocteau Twins to Massive Attack”.

What are you rubbish at?

“I’m terrible with money man. I look at bank statements and receipts and it never adds up”.

Click Here To Play The Roots Manuva Game

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