For anyone who looks back on the glory days of 1980s dancehall reggae with fondness (or perhaps, in light of post-ragga excesses, flat-out longing), this collaboration between old-school deejay Deemas J and DJ/producer Wrongtom will soothe the ears like butter on a burn. Fresh off of his Duppy Writer remix project with Roots Manuva, Wrongtom put together a set of dancehall tracks that hark back explicitly to the sound of 1980s London, a time when roots reggae beats were getting stripped down to their fundamentals and digital rhythms were just emerging. Deemas J chats on the mike in a variety of styles, several of them explicitly backward-looking: "East London" is a none too subtle nod to the pioneering dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, and on "Wa Do Dance" he (along with winsome singer Ammoye) pay tribute to Eek-A-Mouse without trying to ape his instantly recognizable and deeply weird vocal approach.
It’s Tuesday 23rd October. Looking distractedly out of the window as I contemplate writing this review it’s grey, foggy, damp and worse of all, the clocks go back this weekend which means us poor folks in the UK lose a precious hour of daylight as we sink deeper into winter. But then the horns kick in on “Old Time Stylee” and I turn my head away from the outside and I’m transported to back to a hot summer, sometime in the ‘80s, as Deemas’ dancehall/ragga vocals break through under a throbbing bassline and everything is alright again in my world.
A collaboration reflecting on three decades of London’s music and culture. Darren Loucaides 2012 Aside from dub and dancehall devotees, most of those sizing up In East London will have arrived here courtesy of 2010’s plaudit-winning Duppy Writer, on which Roots Manuva "met" Wrongtom. In itself, this is a bit of a shame – Wrongtom has been conjuring on the decks since the 80s, following in the sound system tradition that has so influenced British music.