Rodney Smith aka Roots Manuva is one of the titans of Black British music.
Smith made his recorded debut in 1994 as part of IQ Procedure through Suburban Base's short-lived hip hop imprint Bluntly Speaking Vinyl. He debuted as Roots Manuva the same year on Blak Twang's 'Queen's Head' single, before releasing his own single, 'Next Type of Motion' the following year through the same label, the hugely influential Sound of Money. In 1998 he joined Big Dada and the following year released his fiercesome debut, 'Brand New Second Hand'. Manuva was rewarded for his breakthrough with a MOBO as Best Hip Hop Act that year.
He gained a Mercury Prize nomination for his 2001 release 'Run Come Save Me', which has currently sold well over 100,000 copies in the UK. More importantly, it spawned the all-time classic 'Witness' (voted the greatest UK hip hop tune of all time by the readers of Hip Hop Connection). It is also the record which led the Guardian newspaper to proclaim Manuva fifth in their '40 Best Bands In Britain' feature.
Alongside many other releases, Manuva contributed to the first Gorillaz record, started up his label-come-gang, Banana Klan, and guested on countless records for other artists. In addition, he curated and promoted a series of “Dub College” events that featured everyone from Micachu and The Bug to Dawn Penn. He has also collaborated and guested with a long list of artists over the years not only Gorillaz, but a diverse selection of artists including Jamie Cullum, The Maccabees, Toddla T, The Cinematic Orchestra, Leftfield and Mr Scruff and many others.
His last project included an initial double A-side single, Facety 2:11 / Like a Drum saw Smith recruit two of electronic music’s most brilliant talents, Four Tet and Machinedrum. Summer 2015 was spent appearing at a series of festivals, including supporting Blur at Hyde Park, while putting the finishing touches on his last record, ‘Bleeds.’