Twang’s back again (‘…Although I never left, I’m takin’ my seat back / Back with a spring in my step, back in my element…’) with his fourth album release, fifth if you count the never-released-due-to-label-problems, promo only ‘Dettwork SouthEast’. ‘Speaking From Xperience’ is an aptly named volume of work, and a hefty tome at that. Frankly, I recoil at the thought of reviewing an album with 18 tracks proper (24 counting skits). How can I possibly listen to that much music and assess it all at once? ‘Tis pretty hard, but I’ve started now haven’t I?
As usual Mr. Rotton touches on a variety of issues but this time round to accompany and complement this, he utilises a range of ‘urban’ sounds. ‘Hey People’ sits in the grime domain, however ‘Made Me Strong’ crosses over into dancehall territory. ‘So Hard’ displays soul influences but showcases a double time flow and ‘There For You’ has an eastern feel but is clearly influenced by modern R’n’B. The resulting overall sound is a cleverly blended version of all that’s hot right now in the sphere of ‘black music’ on both sides of the pond. Nevertheless, Twang’s recognisable production sound is still evident. This clever move should afford Tony a good few new listeners to add to his ever loyal fan base.
If you’re into UK Hip Hop you’ll know Blak Twang’s name is huge. You’ll also probably know the names Sway and Estelle. Man, who doesn’t know Estelle’s name? Sway’s pretty huge too. Both artists pop up on ‘SFX’ adding to the value and appeal of this release. Sway features on ‘Legends’ on which both exercise their rapid fire raps. To be honest, neither MC’s are at their best here; Twang has difficulty spitting some lyrics and Sway is just not as entertaining and humorous as usual. Love story ‘Nu N’uh’ features Tor as well as Estelle. Tor provides the voice of the other half whilst Estelle offers a mournful chorus. Other similarly themed tracks (Sway’s ‘F Ur X’, Dizzee’s ‘I Luv U’, The Street’s ‘Get Out Of My House’) have succeeded where ultimately this one bores a bit. Neither of these tracks are bad, they just could have been better with the talent involved. For a better, nay, brilliant Twang / Estelle collabo, check ‘Trixstar’ on the album ‘Kik Off’.
But it’s far from bad. The single ‘Champagne Lifestyle’ is cool as is it’s flip ‘4 Tha Summa’ (maybe next year eh?!) but I’ve already reviewed that. The first single ‘Help Dem Lord’, released on 12” last year is awesome and in the vein of ‘So Rotton’, it’s a track I don’t tire of. ‘96’ is a belting 3 verse autobiography, modestly reserved for last track. ‘We Gonna Win’, the opener is a dramatic and weighty statement of intent – check for the amazing flute riff. ‘Nah I Aint Done’ with Sheriff and K9 and ‘Rap Life’ are just great Hip Hop songs and a testament to the diversity of our genre. Rhymefest appears on ‘Tale of 2 Cityz’ a jumbled but bubbly production that should stimulate at least a couple of neck muscles. Without mentioning each track, be assured that the rest of the album is solid stuff.
The addition of this album to his back catalogue should see Blak Twang’s name remain in the arena for a good while – the man deserves all the success in the world. He’s been consistent, interesting and wise and is a true pioneer. Here’s to another hour and a bit of Tony Olabode’s music that will provide many hours more entertainment.
The single ‘Champagne Lifestyle’ is available now and ‘Speaking From Xperience’ will be out on September 15th on the Abstract Urban label and will probably be available absolutely everywhere that’s worth shopping at.