ROOTS MANUVA Badmeaningood (Ultimate Dilemma)
According to the cover blurb, "BadMeaninGood is a new compilation series giving the listener an insight into the personal musical journeys of key figures in hip hop, past and present. Through the track-list on each album the compiler will define their own unique vision of hip hop, selecting the tracks that, in their opinion, inspired, defined and reinvented the genre". This second instalment is curated by Roots Manuva, the booming voice of British hip-hop, who offers up not exactly a DJ set, but a selection of tunes that have been tailored together as neatly as possible. Recentish talent like Deckwrecka Feat. MCD's amiably boastful "Priceless" snuggles up next to the smooth mid-70s Motown of Willie Hutch's "(I'm Gonna) Hold On". He rescues something worthwhile - "Caught Up" - from the critical wreckage of Ol' Dirty Bastard's "The Trials And Tribulations Of Russell Jones" album and lines up Outkast's eerie, sparse and mysterious "Elevators (Me & You)". The Beat's "Mirror In The Bathroom" irritated the five-year-old me when it cropped up on "Top Of The Pops" - Manuva's inclusion of it here reveals it as having all the splendid, nervy paranoia of early Talking Heads. There's a string of certified classics from Eric B And Rakim, NWA, Soul II Soul and Freez, and a deep, underwater dub version of "Yellow Submarine" provided by the compiler especially for the occasion, with the lyrics the only recognisable remnants of The Beatles' original. Best bit is the fabulously melancholic "Stimulation Of Chaos" by Reachout, all Radiohead guitar chilled to Eno temperature, buffeted by Massive Attack beats. Roots Manuva's "Badmeaningood" isn't the greatest mix album in the world ever (but what is? The Chemical Brothers' "Brother's Gonna Work It Out", currently, I'd say) but it sheds new light on some old tunes whilst dropping in some fine and interesting new work: mission successfully accomplished.