An Ode to Brand New Second Hand

I have been reminding myself of the abundance of good tracks that are on Brand New Second Hand. It was one of the first UK hip hop albums I was obsessed with, after an ex bought it for me back in 2000. Before that I was pretty much only listening to US stuff, but that album changed a lot for me. Roots Manuva put me onto Skitz, who reintroduced me to Rodney P’s music – having rinsed London Posse for a while a few years earlier – then from there I got into Low Life and the rest is pretty self-explanatory.
I had always been a fan of reggae, so just the title of the album was enough to catch my attention, let alone the fusion of hip hop, reggae and dub that Manuva created on there. I think it actually took me a few listens to get into the more reggae-influenced songs like Dem Phonies and Wisdom Fall, because I was still somewhat of a purist back then, but once I was fully converted by Brand New, my tastes continued to broaden in that respect.
The production as a whole was incredible I thought and listening back today, it hasn’t really lost any of its power in the 19 years since it was released. I loved the way he produced tracks under different names too. And lyrically it was beyond compare to me at the time. Manuva is a genuinely funny MC, with a great take on social commentary and he could tell a good story as well, like on Inna. I remember thinking how strong it finished too, with those live strings on Motion 5000. In fact, that and Fever are two of my favourites from the whole LP.
I will be honest that after Run/Dub Come Save Me, I didn’t really dig many of his other albums – with the exception of a few tracks here and there – but Brand New will always be one of the best hip hop albums to ever come out of this country, in my opinion. I know that various things have happened to him over the past couple of years that have been especially tough for people who know him well to witness, but I am hoping he gets the support he needs now, so he can make a proper return to the music that he helped shape and popularise.

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