Producer and DJ Wrongtom has been involved in many musical projects, though in recent years became best known as Hard-Fi’s in-house remixer and tour DJ. That was, at least, until this year, when his two year collaboration with Roots Manuva finally came to fruition.
In 2008, Tom was asked by Big Dada to turn in a remix of ‘Buff Nuff’, the first single from Roots Manuva’s ‘Slime & Reason’ album. However, so impressed were the label’s people with the result that they asked him to do some more, eventually adding a whole bonus disc of Wrongtom mixes to that long player. Then they asked him to create an entire remix album spanning the rapper’s career.
In creating that album, ‘Duppy Writer’, Tom tried to re-imagine each track as an ‘original’ version from an earlier decade, taking Roots Manuva’s 21st century music back through 80s dancehall to classic reggae. He and Roots even found time to record a brand new track, ‘Jah Warriors’, which features guest vocals from Ricky Ranking.
Although conceived as a remix album, the final thirteen track collection is actually more a standalone piece in its own right. Although the vocals are taken from previously available Roots Manuva tracks (except for ‘Jah Warriors’, obviously), Wrongtom completely succeeds in his mission to make it sound like it is the originals which are remixes.
It’s such a complete and cohesive piece of work that any newcomer to Roots Manuva’s career would be completely justified in thinking ‘Duppy Writer’ was his debut, rather than a retrospective. And it’s this skilful production and creative vision that, in case you were wondering, puts him at number seven in our Artists Of The Year chart.
As well as the record, various live shows in strange locations with Roots Manuva have hit London over the last few months, with the rapper performing these new versions of his songs. We were lucky enough to stand outside a t-shirt shop in Shoreditch recently, craning our necks in an attempt to see over the heads of the assembled crowd spilling out of the door.
And Roots isn’t the only artist to receive the Wrongtom treatment this year; the producer released a brilliant, though unofficial, digital dancehall reworking of Tinie Tempah’s ‘Pass Out’, and a dub version of ‘Skanky Panky’ by Kid Koala for the Ninja Tune 20th anniversary boxset, amongst others.
I’ve not even mentioned his house project with Dante Gabriel – Indian Queens – or his ‘Old Ghosts’ compilation, which featured fifteen unreleased tracks spanning genres from hip hop to free jazz, and which came out as a free download via Myuzyk in January.
Plus, an honourable mention must go to the Mr Trick & Wrongtom radio show, which was last broadcast in December 2009 before being dropped from the schedules by Resonance FM in January. I miss feeling like I know almost nothing about music on a weekly basis, thanks to Trick and Tom’s archival knowledge (and archives of records) – something further demonstrated on Tom’s CMU Powers Of Ten playlist.
2010 has indeed been a very busy year for Tom, and he’s not looking like slowing down in 2011. Already scheduled for next year is his contribution to The Dub Pistols’ upcoming remix album, ‘Six Months’, featuring vocals from Rodney P and the recently departed Gregory Isaacs, a dubby mini-album with Phantom and more from Indian Queens.