Remember the good old days? When the term Boom Bap had a simple definition. Tony Blair was still the man. Knight Rider and Airwolf re runs were still cool and Arsenal's defence moved forwards in unison (those were the days)? Are you like me, making regular, Golden Aged acoustic excursions to satisfy the craving? Tony Olabode was supposed to deliver what would probably have been the UK's first class ticket to that fabled destination. However the obligatory record label wrangles and contractual disputes rendered that a non starter. 18 years later however, comes the South East London residents own interpretation of the phrase 'better late than never.
Lets be honest, to myself and those of you reading this review with genuine interest, the emancipation of Dettwork Southeast is long overdue. But in the cold light of day this is a niche release of sorts. An album highly sought after by those in the know who are well versed on a particular era of music from a certain part of the world, or those studious enough on modern UK Hip Hop to have been self schooled on what Tony Rotten means to the culture. But even after putting those camps together and adding on international equivalents, that is still quite a select group. Quite frankly from the outside looking in, for Sony to have remastered and released this album in the first place (albeit with virtually no promotion) is quite something. Luckily the nostalgia fest (in more ways than one for Londoners) is worth the wait.
First and foremost this truly is an album of its time. With all the booming kicks and crashing snares on display there is absolutely no confusion as to which US coast is the influential host of this party. DJ Rumple and the Twang himself keep the formula straight, with no chasers which, when held up against many of today's more elaborate equivalents, wins the inherent battle of longevity with relative ease. I defy any 'heads' out there to feast their ears on Heads & Tales, Real Estate, Tai Boxing, Don't Let The Fool You and B.S. Survivah (to name but a few of many examples) and not flip the same "full on nostalgia mode" switch that I triggered. To spout monikers like Buckwild or Nick Wiz is far less an exaggeration than it is a factual point of reference.
Tony himself is the archetypal representative of a mid nineties inner city London that I remember very clearly. That deep and forceful low key tone a comfortable fit for the horns and jazzy warbles that dominate the majority of Dettwork's soundscapes and considering the time that has passed since this LP's original conception the term 'fashionably retro' springs to mind as oppose to out of touch. References to Acton (my hometown), Bally (not ballet) shoes, The Trocadero, West Ealing (a regular haunt of mine in those days), British Rail and being a 'gallis' (primarily because I wasn't one) were more then enough to push me over the edge and into an ethereal state of historic daydreaming. Consequentially the regeneration of slang like marga, butters, garms, arms house, beans and chuckin' it, is something that I am taking into serious consideration.
Hip Hops malleability and previously overabundant sample use make it a gateway to many other genres. But when an uncomplicated approach is done well its spoken format means instant accessibility for damn near anybody. Especially for the uninitiated newcomers who choose to look past its initially rebellious nature. The better exponents of the art, and the results of their labours tend to induce a little more substance (whatever form that may take) than their more run-of-the-mill peers. Dettwork Southeast at nearly 20 years old, does just that and with the beats on show, you don't have to come from my neck of the woods to appreciate it.
Buy: Dettwork Southeast HERE or HERE
Buy: Dettwork Southeast HERE or HERE