Thursday, 14 January 2010
"Laying down facts like British rail tracks. Cockney rhyming slang, and black conundrums dem pun the dungeon. This is how we function in London, from New Cross to Piccadilly Circus, from tower blocks across the circuit. No surplus no deficit. No more no less. If it's Southeast or Northwest or Shredded Wheat or East. From Old Kent Road to Ladbroke Grove, I lay low. Handle most of my biz on my cellular dog and bone. We pass through Elephant and Castle. Take the back streets to save the hassle when delivering a parcel. Over the bridge and through the tunnel, beyond the horizon, where the sky scrapers meet the sky lining. My eyes on the prize seen, not the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow ..." Perfectly put that at the start of Blak Twang's Dettwork SouthEast. Blak Twang or Tony Rotton is one of the great presences on the UK hip hop scene, and his 1996 LP Dettwork South East set could lay claim to being the scene's Smile. In other words it's never really officially appeared, but has taken on a mythical status and has been heard by so many people shall we say informally one way and another. It's a ridiculously great record, including gems like Real Estate which make even more ludicrous the claims of people who insist there's been no great UK hip hop. I guess it needs pointing out that the lost LP's title is a black slang play on words referencing Network SouthEast, which in 1986 was the new name for British Rail's old London & the South East region. Soon after its arrival Network SouthEast bought in the Network Card which gave a third off rail travel in the region and was a real boon. An early advertising campaign used the O'Jays' Love Train. While the name disappeared officially with the Tory privatisation in 1994 the branding would be seen for amy years to come on trains passing through Black Twang's SE8.