This one is really funny.
I don't know if you've heard of me but I'm a rapper/producer from South London England and I've just released a record called Run Come Save Me that I thought might be of interest to you. I also just wanted to let you personally know how much that track you did with Shabba Ranks meant to me when I was first starting out. It really opened my eyes to new forms of expression in hip-hop music. Anyway, I've included a copy of my new CD. I'd love it if you'd let me know what you think of it. Thanks!
Rodney Smith (Roots Manuva)
"The most significant and original new voice in hip-hop..." --The Independent
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Don't fucking kid yourself, I know the act. Seems like things are going nice for you right now, and honestly, I'm happy for you. I think you're a good kid. But this new album you sent me, what the fuck? I don't even know where to start on this bullshit. The first track, it's called "No Strings," but actually it's nothing but strings. I guess you think you're doing something very clever here. Rodney, fuck, listen to me: it's just tepid. All of it. You're riding the wave of novelty right now. I didn't rhyme my way out of the motherfucking gutter on NME hype. If you stay on this path your next stop's gonna be a Thievery Corporation cameo. All your reviews begin with, "Where else will you hear someone rapping about [insert Britishism here]?" Who gives a fuck about "ten pints of bitter?" You were never lyrically stunning, to say the very least, but at least you were listenable; now it's like trying to sit through a blunted knock-knock joke with no punchline. To make it all somehow worse, the only real (read: American) MC on the whole thing is that clown from J5 on "Join the Dots," and he's easily the worst lyricist in the history of this rap shit. Namedropping Anthony Kiedis, for fuck's sake, Rodney, that's unforgivable. I dunno, maybe the words would be a bit more palatable if not for your voice. Oh, that voice. Christ. On your first album it seemed like your rugged (yawn) vocal stylings were almost something close to fresh, but now with the production thinned to the most boring minimum (and after hearing too fucking many two-step raga shouters), a weak cockney sputter just doesn't hold my interest at all. Everything on here seems stolen, and not just because the (unintentionally?) shaky religious doubt of "Sinny Sin Sin" comes directly from my On Christian Hypocrisy chapter. You've jumbled all the flaws of every ponderous underground hip-hop animal into a confusingly repulsive (and, lest i forget, British) MC. It's a bad thing.
So your voice is dry, the rhymes are shook ("the return of the Rootical one?" What the fuck?) and, hate to say it, but the beats are worse than ever. A damn shame, too, because your last had some incredible tracks. "Clockwork" was one of the hottest old world moody-style joints of '99 for sure. How did your skills behind the boards slip so bad? It's sad to see the guy who effortlessly floated on the grainy charcoal-sketched Mobb Deep wail of "Movements" driven to the hollow two-note keyboard loops and boring dirgy bass of almost every track here. Grotesque bids at dance cred are strictly 1997. I paid my dues with Goldie already so you can sit the fuck down. Honestly, I can't even believe UK "electronica" culture is coming out for this languid failure anyway. It's certainly no more rewarding in the club than back at home. Here's some production advice: lay off the fucking weed! I borrowed from dub's framework to get hardcore bounce-back, you're just coming off with funkless rewrites of Shaggy's "Boombastic" injected with ill-conceived pretension. At this point, even Wu got you bested on the reggae-rap front and they're just half-heartedly fucking around with it. Better luck next time.
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Thanks a lot for the correspondence. I love to hear from fans like yourself. Unfortunately, until I get less mail or less work (neither of which I'd welcome!), I can't respond personally to every piece of mail I receive.
We also appreciate your interest in the Roots Manuva Fan Club. However, we could not process your request due to the following error:
?5 not enclosed.
"One of the sanest offerings to emerge from the British inner city and a healthy antidote to the inanity of US hip hop" --The Daily Telegraph
-Ethan P., December 12, 2001