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Blak Twang has been involved in the UK hip hop scene for well over a decade now, and like so many artists in the game has had his fair share of trouble and strife. ‘Dettwork South East’ was pencilled in for a ’96 release, but issues with the label meant that it never saw a proper release. Unfortunately, his sophomore album fell victim to a similar fate although seemed to gain some level of distibution. All in all, you have to admire the determination of any artist who manages to come out of an experience like this still intact as surprisingly Blak Twang has gone on to see some crossover success on the UK scene whilst still staying relatively true to the music. His first album is gritty, well produced and demonstrates his skills on the mic; in my opinion it is a fine example of how good UK hip hop can be.
I know very little about the production credits on the album although I think that much of it was self-produced along with involvement from DJ Rumple. Whoever is responsible, the beats here are top notch: big heavy basslines, crisp drum tracks and dark, brooding samples. The title track is one of the highlights as well as ‘Fearless’ but generally speaking the consistency here is exceptional, with only a couple of tracks potentially leading you towards the skip button.
Lyrically, Blak Twang’s verses are steeped in London culture. Although I no longer live in the nation’s capital, listening to ‘Dettwork South East’ makes me feel proud to be a Londoner, and has me bowling around town with swagger (this is of course a highly romanticised vision that is pretty far removed from the suburban Finchley where I grew up). Numerous references to London hotspots and Twang’s cockney/patois slang mean that this is unmistakably from these shores, and it is delivered with an easy and confident style. There is also a guestspot with Roots Manuva on ‘Queenshead’ which is worth checking particularly due to Manuva’s subsequent career successes.
Overall, this comes highly recommended. Although I have my gripes about the UK scene there are some records that have me questionning my feelings towards British hip hop: this is one of them. Both production and the rhymes come correct and this really is a release that oozes quality from start to finish. Cop it, get your London attitude firmly fixed in place and appreciate British hip hop at its best.