It has been recently announced that the legendary “lost” debut album from Blak Twang, hailing from Deptford, Lewisham, South-East London, will be seeing it’s long overdue re-release headed by Sony Music on September 22nd 2014. The significance of “Dettwork SouthEast” (a pun on the rail company Network SouthEast) is the influence it’s had since the intended official release in 1996, becoming widely regarded by hip-hop specialists as a holy grail of UK hip-hop, ranking at No.3 in the Hip-Hop Connection list of the Top 50 UK hip-hop LP’s, despite having never passed an initial test press and seeing only a scarce distribution of promotional-only cassette tapes. 18 years on the undisputed classic has since been re-mastered in all it’s original glory, containing collaborations with iconic figureheads Roots Manuva, Seanie T and Fallacy as well as a brand new 2014 bonus track ‘Dettwork Southeast Revisited (Dettwork Southeast Remix)’ featuring hip-hop forerunners Jehst, Rodney P and Samsom AKA Black The Ripper, each representing their districts over a rugged Harry Love production.
In a period of increasing political discontent and a rise in urban militancy, perhaps partly inspired by the radicalism of american gangster rap which was gaining considerable popularity, “Dettwork SouthEast” presented a very realistic representation of the lifestyle’s faced in urban communities during the mid-90’s, presenting a beacon of morality which conquered the anger with intelligible insights which might have inspired an alternative revolutionary perception, despite the background of inequality in which it was devised. Though throughout London there had been significant social progression from the racism which had causally stemmed from outlets such as the televised media and traditional neoconservative opinions, racial tensions still remained rife, unaided by mounting high profile murder cases including the racially inspired teenage killings of Rolan Adams, Navid Sadiq and of course the infamously mishandled investigation of Stephen Lawrence’s death in 1993. But there were also other issues which haunted the most deprived South-East estates; a class A drugs epidemic which was claimed to have been implemented by Yardie gangs who had migrated from across the Atlantic in the late 80’s, resultedly leading to a demonisation of Jamaicans by British society. These are just some of the issues which Blak Twang tackles with precision, checkmating a frustrated pessimism endured by those surviving in similarly indigent backgrounds such as his own.
Blak Twang paid tribute to his fan support which ensured the album’s re-release: “For the ‘Dettwork SouthEast’ album to finally get a release now, as it deserved when it was first recorded in 1996, is quite incredible. The reason this has been possible is really due to the fans, who have been the never-ending fuel that have kept the fire blazing and the engines running. It was the genesis of my career and really defined what I’ve gone on to achieve since then, so for everyone to get behind this project and truly believe in it has been amazing!”
The Blak Twang Dettwork SouthEast Album Launch Party will take place on Monday 22nd September at the London Jazz Café. Tickets are on sale at www.gigsandtours.com
Words by Ethan Everton