Info → Dead Editors                    

British rapper Rodney Smith AKA Roots Manuva, who performed the vocals on the Dead Editors track found on the Ritual Spirit EP.


UK Release: 28th January (Ritual Spirit EP)

UK Highest Chart (Ritual Spirit EP): #2

Track Duration: 04:45

Formats: CD, Vinyl, Digital. View Discography Entry.

Written By: Robert Del Naja, Euan Dickinson, Rodney Smith and Herbie Hancock

Produced By: Robert Del Naja and Euan Dickinson

Vocals: Roots Manuva

Additional Vocals: Cold Specks

Mastered By: Tim Young

Mixed By: Bruno Ellingham

The basis for Dead Editors comes from the writing sessions for The UK Gold documentary soundtrack which 3D and Euan Dickinson produced during 2013 (but not released to the public until 2015). One half of the soundtrack was provided by Massive Attack while the other was from Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich of Radiohead. The instrumental version of Dead Editors (sans the Herbie Hancock sample in the EP version) was the final track of the soundtrack release. The term "Dead Editors" also comes from The UK Gold documentary which was about tax evasion in the City Of London. 

In 2015, Massive Attack contacted alternative hip-hip producer Roots Manuva to lay down vocals for the track which they felt was strong enough to stand apart from its original soundtrack origins.

Additional Info

Canadian soul singer Cold Specks (Ladan Hussein) provided additonal backing vocals on Dead Editors.

Roots Manuva has worked with many artists int he electronic and alternative hip-hop scenes before his work with Massive Attack. Such bands include Leftfield, UNKLE, DJ Shadow, Gorillaz and Nightmares On Wax.

Canadian alternative soul singer Cold Specks (Ladan Hussein) was drafted in by Massive Attack to provide background vocals on Dead Editors. This is her first and so far only collaboration with Massive Attack so far. 

The Ritual Spirit EP (which Take It There appears on) marks the first major release to bear the Massive Attack name to feature Euan Dickinson, who had previously worked as a studio engineer/programmer before being promoted to co-producer/writer alongside 3D when Neil Davidge left the band.  Daddy G by contrast, much like he did with 100th Window, did not take part in the Ritual Spirit EP sessions.

Live Appearances

A quick one minute instrumental version of Dead Editors was played as the opneing track at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin, Ireland on the opening night (19th January) of the 2016 tour. It would also be its only appearance in live form for the rest of the 2016 tour.


Instrumental – A shortened instrumental version of Dead Editors was first released almost one year before the Ritual Spirit EP version of the track as part of The UK Gold soundtrack in February 2015. It is therefore likely that the genesis of the track was originally from the scoring sessions for the UK Gold documentary which happened in 2013.

Sampled From

Herbie Hancock pictured in the Massive Attack studio in March 2012 with Neneh Cherry. Herbie Hancock's track "Watermelon Man" was sampled in Dead Editors.

Dead Editors uses a sample from the song “Watermelon Man” by jazz fusion artist Herbie Hancock. It appears primarily on his 1973 album Head Hunters. Massive Attack had previously used a Herbie Hancock sample before in Safe From Harm when they sampled his track "Chameleon", which was also on his 1973 Head Hunters album. 

Herbie Hancock actually visited the Massive Attack studio in 2012, presumably to work on new material with Massive Attack. While it appears he did not contribute directly in the writing of Dead Editors, the use of a sample of one of his songs is probably indicative that his studio visit with Massive Attack went well and the possibility of material from this session appearing in the future cannot be discounted.

Notable Quotes

Canadian singer Cold Specks on working with Massive Attack on dead Editors and how they provided her further inspiration – “Rob is probably the most talented person I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with, and Roots Manuva so cool it hurts. I did some arrangements and vocals for Massive Attack a while back. The creepy choral arrangement on “Dead Editors” is mine. A great deal of the sounds on my new record came to life after working with Rob and getting a glimpse into his working process. Massive Attack are one of my favourite bands, and I probably listen to “Safe From Harm” once a day. Endless love and respect.” [Magnet Magazine – November 2017]


Dead Editors first appeared in instrumental form on the 2015 soundtrack to The UK Gold documentary.

Conveying my
My swaying tie
Conveying my
That's way inside
I see tapestry
I see tapestry
Cooling tapestry
Flashing light years
Flashing light years
What would it take to get back to the blackness
Up there out there
Wanna gonna be like stars
Constellations in installations of my fixation of so sensational oh
What would it take to know
With a viewing of the night sky
Taking a peep at the history
Messages in the mystery
Further to what the eye may see
Eye to eye with these reasonings
More to gain from than leaving in
But on the low now we leave it in
Washing away that dependency
Who the wheres and the why for
A cause to live or to die for
We all search for some kind of truth
Hurt will make it inclined to be
Type or type for self righteous
Cool and pure with no hype just
Black before and behind us
Nature might remind us
Fear for fear but where time lives
Secretly with those eyelids
All for one with one iris
Black before and behind us
Nature might remind us
Fear for fear but where time lives
Secretly with those eyelids
All for one with one iris

Flashing light years
Flashing light years
Flashing right here
Flashing light years
Numb to the point these timelines
Knowing that the time lies
Before and ahead of us
Lose your head then head it up
Just now we get perspective
Deep love for the unexpected
That special request is
Made for the soul investments
The bank of all these fortunes
Just can't be exhausted
Those infinite resources
Just don't need to force it
The work is where the force is
Transport for sport is
Amongst and beyond it
The seekers and the finders
Sure as death can find us
One inside the tapestry
Flashing light years
Flashing light years
Flashing right here

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