Today’s pop pick: Roots Manuva – ‘Witness (1 Hope)’. Today I nominate Alex Schmidt-Arkin.
I don’t listen to much hip-hop, and certainly not much UK hip-hop – it’s just not for me, really. But this is fantastic, both in the instrumentation and lyrics. Roots grew up in Streatham in South London, and is seen triumphantly returning to his primary school in the video above. I lived in Streatham for a while, so while I can’t say I understand his background or experiences, I do have that tiny connection.
I “discovered” this by accident. I don’t know how it got on my iPod, but I was on the elliptical at the gym in San Francisco, and this song came on and was the perfect speed and style. When I got home, I looked it up, and was charmed to see Roots exercising in the same way, before winning all the sports day activities he had failed at when he was a schoolboy, claiming the trophy, and roaring off in his Ferrari. I like the sound of it, and the lyrics blending Jamaican patois (“Let go me ting, duppy, let go me hand“) and London geezer (“Breakneck speed we drown ten pints of bitter“). Good one.