Roots Manuva, born Rodney Smith is a British hip-hop artist, who mixes hip hop with reggae and dub as well as electronica, and even some gospel. He grew up around Stockwell in South London. His parents were from a small village in Jamaica called Banana Hole where his father was a preacher and tailor. Spending much of his early years in poverty, this and his strict Pentecostal upbringing clearly had an influence on his music as can be seen in many of his tracks such as “PlaySinny Sin Sins” and “PlayColossal Insight”.
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. 1996 saw the release of his collaborations with Skitz (“Where My Mind Is At”/”Blessed Be the Manner”). The release of “Feva” followed in 1997; this was also the year that saw the first releases from Big Dada, a collaboration between Coldcut’s Ninja Tune label and hip hop journalist Will Ashon.
Releasing for Coldcut’s renowned experimental/hip-hop label Ninja Tune in 1998, some of his music may be seen as a predecessor of grime. The following year he released his fearsome debut album, “Brand New Second Hand”. Manuva was rewarded for his breakthrough with a MOBO as Best Hip Hop Act that year.