So Solid Crew

‘I got 21 seconds before I got to go’ said So Solid Crew in 2001 but fast forward 12 years and they’re back and more boisterous than ever. We collared group lynchpin Megaman for a chat about So Solid and their legacy…

Jim Ottewill
  • By Jim Ottewill
  • 17 Oct 2013
  • min read
‘So Solid Crew is here to stay/We're gonna right to the top of it’ is Lisa Mafia’s verse from So Solid Crew’s huge smash 21 Seconds.

Ten years later those words seem oddly prophetic as in spite of everything, So Solid have done just that. They burst out of a UK underground of pirate radio, clubs and gangs as a sprawling, snotty-nosed garage collective known in the press for their bad attitude as much their bold beats.

After skirmishes with each other, other crews as well as the charts, the band fell out of favour but their legacy endures. They may have been a wayward and musically inconsistent force but they helped blaze a path for other so-called ‘urban’ artists to smash their way out of the underground and into the charts. Without them today’s pop landscape would be a less interesting place.

M caught up with Megaman ahead of their appearance at the forthcoming 18th anniversary MOBO Awards to get the low-down on the band, their music and their legacy…

How did you first get into music?

When I was in primary school I had a little singing group while my family was also into music. My dad was into soundsystems while my mum was more into singers. Influences were easy to come by in those early years.

How did So Solid Crew get together?

Initially some of our crew got involved with [pirate radio station] Supreme FM. I was one of the first to know about the opportunity with the station and saw an opening for a crew like So Solid. That’s how we first started the situation.

It grew from me and Romeo and we just continued adding members. I was orchestrating it and bringing in other people who could develop the sound as well as their own personal skills - whether they were DJs, producers or MCs. They became artists.

Did you always want to have a career in music?

Yeah definitely. I was always intrigued by music and the music business. I knew that I wanted both together. I wanted to have some sort of career with the people who I knew and hopefully do other things with it.

How did it work in terms of songwriting?

There were always those talented people who knew about keys and sounds, how to use the equipment and were professional when it came to music. But really everyone brought their own vibe to the table. As MCs, we wrote our own stuff. If one of us featured on a record, then we’d make money from that. If you didn’t then you wouldn’t. That was the situation.

But it was all about who would sound good on a particular track. Me and G-Man owned the company but artists would earn more by being available, being ready or having the best lyric for a particular track. That was the opportunity.

Did you think 21 Seconds was gonna be a hit?

When you’re young, you think everything you do is gonna be a hit. We didn’t think it would be the biggest thing or a game changer but we knew that there were levels we expected to reach. We’d see some artists on TV and think why can’t we be as big as that? Good videos, songs which lasted - we wanted to build something to compare to what was happening on the other side of the Atlantic.

It was the most exciting time of our lives. Most of us didn’t have time to sit down and appreciate the moment. Then, we were just crazy and excited. It’s only now that we can see how important it was.

Why choose now to come back?

It was just a series of interactions with other artists and getting a feel of what the UK wanted. It came out of that and seeing what happened with other stars like Skepta and Wiley. So it felt right.There was also a great vibe and turn out with our first live gig. It catapulted people into asking for something from us and we sat down with the label. They were like this is the best time to do it if you want to go for it.

We hadn’t released a best of or greatest hits yet after 12 years of being in the business. The new generation - I want them to feel like it was like for us when we were first there. I want them to get that era on one CD, then feel the whole mission. With the new track [UK Hot Wid It] they can see where we’ve gone with these sounds and what you hear on the album today.

Is it the same set up in terms of members?

It’s all of us in the crew who contribute. But there are a handful who manage the brand and make sure we’re doing the right thing. Today it’s not about pushing it for number one in singles or albums. We want people to take in our new music and if they support it, then we'll be grateful. We want to work with a lot more artists out there.

What do you think the legacy of So Solid is?

When we first appeared we weren’t aware of the impact we had. We thought anyone could do what we did. But now we can see the importance of what we did at the time. Performing our type of music from our types of background. Now it’s like wow we did do something which is harder than we thought.

There will also be different impacts coming from our musical culture but will there be another So Solid? I doubt it. No one’s been able to do what we could do or Roc-A-Fella in the US. There’s ways to be better and other records to be achieved and there will be people who can do that. But many people appreciate what So Solid did. I look back and say wow – that was really special.

The band are performing the following tour dates;

13 November – Manchester
14 November – London
16 November – Sheffield
18 November – Norwich
19 November - Birmingham