In East London
Wrongtom Meets Deemas J
Released: 24th Sep, 2012
Label: Tru Thoughts
‘In East London’ is the new album from Wrongtom Meets Deemas J, out on 24th September on Tru Thoughts, preceded on 3rd September by the “Jump + Move + Rock” single, which has had early support from Don Letts, Huey Morgan and Nemone on BBC 6Music, John Kennedy (XFM), The Quietus and more.
Following his hugely successful Roots Manuva re-rub album ‘Duppy Writer’ (Big Dada), sought-after producer/DJ Wrongtom had the urge to make something original, whilst maintaining that nod to vintage dub and dancehall, and he knew that long-time friend, occasional collaborator, legendary livewire and stalwart jungle MC Deemas J was the go-to man. The result is this essential reggae, dancehall and dub fuelled LP, with a deep, fresh and bouncing vibe rooted in East London that pays homage to the culture and sound that first got them both hooked back in the ‘80s.
Opener “Old Time Stylee” sets the scene, with Deemas J telling the story of how he started out in jungle soundclashes and dancehalls, and paying tribute to the Labyrinth club – the original hub of Caribbean culture that is now, in Tom’s words “the site of some soulless new build flats, the sanitary scourge which for many is laying waste to dirty old London’s rich rhythmical topography”. Lest we get drawn into nostalgia, though, “Jump + Move + Rock” is up next, loaded with bumping bass and hazy dubs and working its magic all over the place, from clubs to carnivals, this summer. Showcasing Deemas J’s innate charisma and skill, the vocal was freestyled in just one take. The single highlights the straight-up party vibes which this album brings in abundance, alongside a thread of more reflective social and cultural commentary. Tracks like “Riot Ting” and “Crime Times” are steeped in the surroundings of the album’s creation, it having been mostly recorded in the far reaches of the East End in the shadow of the Olympics, the vocals laid down in the wake of 2011’s riots. But ‘In East London’ is far from a political or protest record; many cuts find Deemas simply telling his story, which often also centres on that same area of the city, putting his natural gifts as a raconteur and hype man to use as he ranges through the reaches of his mind and memory with humour and charm.
The overriding upbeat, celebratory tone of the album is reflected in the artwork, its themes captured in fine style by legendary illustrator Tony McDermott, who also created the artwork for ‘Duppy Writer’, and historically was responsible for the look of legendary reggae and dancehall label Greensleeves; his famous cartoon covers becoming synonymous with dub records by Scientist and Mad Professor in the early ‘80s.
Wrongtom Meets Deemas J is the next step in the evolution of the genre-crossing but reggae-rooted producer, bringing to fruition years of collaboration with MC Deemas J. Having met in their native London in the mid ‘90s, when Deemas was MC-ing for the junglist pirate station Scandal FM, they started going to funk nights and formed a band, gigging throughout the UK. During the next decade, Tom got mixed up in the pop world, including touring worldwide with Hard-Fi (which came to its illogical conclusion at Wembley Arena as 10,000 perplexed indie kids listened to a selection of B-More, Shut Up & Dance and Italo House classics) and getting production credits on a UK No. 1 album; paving the way for the subsequent hit album with Roots Manuva via projects on Trojan and Pama International (featuring 2 Tone luminary Lynval Golding) with his reggae/dub collective Stoneleigh Mountain Rockers. Deemas was also building up a formidable reputation as an MC, with equally genre-busting credentials; his virtually endless CV boasts collaborations across d ‘n’ b, old school, garage, reggae and hip hop, including High Contrast, Andy C, Nicky Black Mark, Ras Kwame, Pied Piper, EZ and Kenny Ken to name a few. In the late 2000s Wrongtom and Deemas J were reunited, and with the benefit of the experience they had respectively racked up, their partnership took off again to a new level. So, drop the needle and come join the party as Wrongtom meets Deemas J… in East London.