Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Blak Twang 1992 Debut on wax - Split Decision: "Jenifah" b/w "Come Gimme Ya Love"

Three years prior to Dettwork South East,
Blak Twang was in a group called Split Decision
This little number blew my mind when I found it in a random little Brighton record shop for two quid a year or two ago. Not because it's any good (it isn't, its dreadful), but because of what it was and what it taught me. At the time all my previous knowledge of Blak Twang was centred around the infamous album that wasn't and his time spent on the short-lived but fantastic Sound of Money imprint. In my ignorance I had thought that Tony Rotten had hibernated until he was 23 and then emerged as a fully formed rapping genius when he was ready to drop "What's Goin' On" in 1995. Not so it seems! 

Split Decision in effect!
In fact, as it turns out Twang, then going by his parentally given name Tony Olabode already had some useful experience of the mic booth thanks to his involvement in a dodgy UK incarnation of Bell Biv Devoe known as Split Decision a full three years prior to his 1995 S.O.M. efforts. The group consisted of long-time Twang collaborator Victor Redwood Sawyer (aka VRS who later went on to become the 2nd member of Blak Twang back when the name didn't just refer to Tony Rotton), Tony and a third member with the surname Hamilton who I can't find any further information on (any help appreciated). The trio found an avenue for their creativity on the Go For the Juggler label, also home to Demon Boyz and En4cers legend DJ Pogo and his group of the time - Party A La Mazon.

Side A (Main Street) - Jenifah
In their short time at the label they managed to put together one 12" release which consisted of two New Jack Swing-style tracks with VRS providing the "soul" and Twang and his unknown partner handling the rhymes. Whilst the end result ain't that pretty for someone who likes his beats hard and his rhymes tough, in fairness to Blak Twang - when it's his turn to rock the mic, there are some real glimpses of the talent that is a few years away from surfacing - albeit with an early 90s Naughty by Nature flow and just the slightest hint of an American accent that would probably make the UK rap legend cringe on a play back these days.

Side B (Back Street) - Come Gimme Ya Love
 Side A of this little piece of Hip Hop history, tellingly labeled as Main Street is undoubtedly an unashamed attempt at getting the group some radio play with a pretty sickly ode to "Jenifah", whom Twang and co apparently "can't get enough of"! It is mostly horrible but the beat change for Twang's rap is a welcome bonus when it finally kicks in.

The flip, labeled Back Street is a pretty unsuccessful attempt at something a little harder, prefering to open with the Twang and unknown partner's rhymes and mercifully give less of the mic to VRS. At times it sounds like it is about to get a bit darker and harder especially when the ragga-style "gimme ya love" chant kick in but unfortunately it never really does!

Tha Rottonous One!
But all said and done, whilst it is far from a classic, it definitely provides an insight into the formative years of a UK rap legend approaching 20 years in the game and still releasing good music. As any UK rap fan in their 30s knows only too well, longevity in UK hip hop is a very rare thing and it is testament to Twang that whilst many have come and gone, he has ridden out endless label issues, dropped a couple of stonewall classics and is still repping hard in 2011.

As far as collectability goes - this is really only one for the completists so don't go breaking the bank for it - five quid will do the trick if you want to buy one of the copies currently on discogs, less if you want to be patient and support your local hip hop friendly record shop!

Enjoy, Postie   

Split Decision (Blak Twang and VRS) - Side A: "Jenifah"

Split Decision (Blak Twang and VRS) - Side B: "Gimme Ya Love"

1 comment:

  1. i lyk d sample on d b side dats on a sindecut track as well