When I first saw the title I thought Top Boy was a live-action reimagining of Top Cat, and man was I ever disappointed with the 2011 drama. It turned out to be set in a place called Hackney-blud which, I would learn, is somewhere in Londung and has a scrote problem like wouldn’t believe. People living on the edge, doing drugs, selling drugs, giving drugs unlikely nicknames like “food”. It seemed a rum old place. Ashley Walters starred as Dushane, a young man off the estate who had the same kind of street credibility George Michael had in Wham Rap. Gashley Walturds of course first found fame as a member of Blow Solid Crew but having attended the Sylvia Young theatrical school for dancing in girls’ make-up and bras he also had acting pedigree, chum. But by the end of its first series Gashley/Dushane had established himself as the prima donna on the estate for the sale of drugs and other illegal activity. It was all like a wonderful fairytale come true.
One year after all that and the rozzers have dug up the stinky rotting corpse of Kamale. He’s looked better. The police arrest Dushane, Sully and Dris but with no one talking and no real evidence they are soon released. Sully is sullen though. He feels cheated out of his drug legacy by Dushane and now rolls with an unstable and feckless whiteboy felon and menacing looks at the estate kingpin abound. There’s a general feeling among the wank-and-file mid-level dealers that it might be time for a new plop boy with a whole new way to come at the inner-city drugs problem (much the same as the old way but the money all goes to them instead of Dushane).
There’s a general feeling among the wank-and-file mid-level dealers that it might be time for a new plop boy with a whole new way to come at the inner-city drugs problem (much the same as the old way but the money all goes to them instead of Dushane).
Good luck with that, guys! Dushane controls the pricing and distribution of drugs around the estate because he’s got the connect with Joe the Irishman. I don’t think that’s changing in a hurry. Wait a minute, though. Isn’t that Joe the Mick getting machine-gunned to death at the end of the episode while waiting to conduct an illegal drugs transaction? I believe it is. I withdraw my previous comments. It looks very much, gentlemen, like it’s on and Dushane best believe there will be blood.
It’s a confident return for Top Boy, with its familiar naturalistic dialogue, convincingly busted street urchin faces and fucked up beyond repair urban shitscape. Gem is still utterly clueless but still surviving. Like most here, his life is totally out of his control and he lives in reaction. Even Dushane, a king in a world of pawns, knows better than anyone that the position is a temporary one.
What’s nice is that once you take away the killing and betrayal Hackney still feels like a community. You walk into the hairdressers and everyone knows your name. Too bad that it’s going to be shut down if the mooted redevelopment goes ahead. That’s Hackney-blud. London kills.
The verdict: Sylvia Young smiles down proudly from heaven
Marks out of 10: 7