Sunday, March 07, 2010

Blak Twang: Good work London SE8

Blak Twang has been mentioned in passing on this site a couple of times, but haven't really given full dues to the Deptford wordsmith who is arguably London's best rapper. He's been at it for 15 years or so, from his classic - but never commercially released - debut Dettwork South East in 1995 to his 2008 album Speaking From Xpercience.

Tony Olabode (his real name) was actually born in Manchester, but grew up in Deptford on the Tanners Hill Estate. For a while Roots Manuva - the other contender for best London hip hop artist - shared his flat there. The place gets mentioned on Blak Twang's early track Real Esate:

'Yeah, yeah. Tanner's Hill in your area, ya nah mean?
It's gettin' scarier. The real estate.

Oi! I'm in the house like a squatter, my gate's in New Cross
Home of the original muggers, psychopathic nutters
And plain clothes undercovers, crazy trainspotters
With grass cutters and choppers, eatin' sens' for supper

...I live in SE8 on the run-down estate
With the highest unemployment rate and crime rate'

Several SE London locations also get a mention on his London rudeboy anthem Dettwork South East (1996):

'Dettwork South East, Yeah yeah yeah yeah
Original south London trooper,
Blak Twang, live from the big smoke,
Thameslink, London Connections,
Watch the ride or watch the bus.

Its like this and this and that,
All across the map,
I chit-chat with a UK-Blak twang when I rap,
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 hastle,
Delivering a parcel, Over
The bridge and through the tunnel,
Beyond the horizon,
Where the sky scrapers meet the sky lining....

Good work London SE8'.

In an interview a couple of years ago, Twang said: 'South London has been influential in pretty much everything I've talked about: it really has influenced my music. South London, when it comes to black culture, is the mecca. The place even influenced my called myself Blak Twang - it was based on South London because we had a certain way of speaking and we used a lot of slang' (South London Press, 26 September 2008).

He's still going strong, living in Croydon I believe, and apparently planning to finally officially release the lost Dettwork South East, vanished amidst record company politics in the mid-1990s.

Here's his track Fearless, a defiant response in the aftermath of the murder of Stephen Lawrence: 'you can bring your baseball bats, bricks, bottles and Union Jacks, it's all crap like "Immigrants out, No Irish, No blacks"'.

Can anybody listen to this and say there's no such things as decent UK Hip Hop?



MC Manage, keeping it real from New Cross. Wonderful guy and rapper!

Anonymous said...

Buh buh bad boys blak twang big up Your bad selves
Them lyrics just roll off your tongue quicker than beetles round dung im Gonna come down to SE8 see if i can stay out a little bit late wanna meet you boyz and spit some shit what you reckon lads shall we do ..... IT
Respect everyman