Labelled the Wu-Tang Clan of UK garage, So Solid Crew are a collective of south London DJs, MCs, producers and vocalists, and are also represented by an empire that includes a radio station and two record labels, Papermoney and So Solid Beats.The initial So Solid line-up of Megaman (b. Dwayne Vincent), Mac and PDS formed at the pirate station Supreme FM, and expanded into an ever-changing membership that numbers approximately 25. Predominantly male, this cast also includes Oxide And Neutrino, Romeo, Morgan, Gillard, Kaish (b. Shane Neil), Lisa Maffia, So Solid, Asher D (b. Ashley Walters), Face (b. Jason Moore), Dan Da Man, G-Man (b. Jason Phillips), Swiss (b. Pierre Vincent), Timeless, Statix, TW7, Dionno, Harvey (b. Michael Junior Harvey), Trigger, Skat D (b. Darren Weir), Kowdean, The Twins and Tiger S. Along with Asher D, Oxide And Neutrino, Romeo and Megaman, Lisa Maffia is perhaps the most identifiable face of the group.
"Oh No (Sentimental Things)" was the collective's first hit single, contrasting Maffia's sugar sweet vocals with more acerbic rapping from Megaman and Romeo. In a mix up that left the multiple-mix single containing more than one song, the track was disqualified from the UK charts. It was left to the imaginative "21 Seconds" to become their first legitimate hit, topping the UK charts in August 2001. With 21 seconds given to each participant for a vocal contribution, it became one of the landmark singles of 2001, also winning the Best Video category at the following year's Brit Awards. "They Don't Know", the follow-up single, presented a sparse, paranoid sound, a texture reinforced by "Haters", whose deceptively soulful chorus was backed up by a rap preoccupied with jealousy and hatred. The debut album included a mixture of underground garage, ragga and R&B, with stabbing bass lines and hooks countered by virtuoso, often aggressive rapping from the crew, whose numbers allow for a wide variety of vocal textures.
Controversy plagued So Solid Crew between the release of their debut album and the follow-up Second Verse, with Asher D found guilty of a firearms offence and sentenced to 18 months in a young offenders' institution, Skat D questioned about injuring a female fan, and in June 2003 G-Man jailed for four years after being found guilty of fleeing a suspected drugs deal with a loaded gun. The ensuing reaction from the UK press led in part to the cancellation of several projected tours, and a subsequent reluctance for venues to offer a platform for their exciting take on urban music.
Oxide And Neutrino enjoyed a hit single prior to the collective's debut when "Bound 4 Da Reload (Casualty)" topped the UK charts in summer 2000. Further single releases by the duo have also broken into the upper reaches of the charts. Romeo enjoyed solo success of his own in 2002 when the singles "Romeo Dunn" and "It's All Gravy" reached the UK Top 10.
DISCOGRAPHY: They Don't Know (Relentless 2001)****, Second Verse (Independiente 2003)***.
VIDEOGRAPHY: This Is So Solid (Universal 2002).
BIBLIOGRAPHY: So Solid: My Dangerous Life With So Solid Crew, Asher D.
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