A Closer Look At So Solid Crew’s Everlasting Cultural Importance
21 Oct 2022
I feel that not enough people in our current generation acknowledge or appreciate the musical and cultural impact that So Solid Crew have had on this scene we love dearly to this day.
They have been neglected in the conversation of the most influential artists and because we are blessed with a thriving scene at the moment sometimes, we forgot how much previous generations struggled to be heard in an industry that simply didn’t want to hear what we had to say. Or thought that we were too rough for mainstream radio play.
So Solid Crew were the ones whose footsteps we can still see in the sand, being unapologetically Black-British before it was even a thing. Founded by Mega and G-man in 1998. They are best known for their songs ‘They Don’t Know’, ‘Oh No’ and the iconic ’21 Seconds’, all tracks mentioned were off of their debut album The Don’t Know which went on to reach no.1 in the UK charts.
After They Don’t Know, made up of 20 tracks they released the follow-up 2nd Verse (2003) building on the street success, as well as the surprise commercial success that the crew enjoyed.
The group came up around the time of garage and local pirate radio when it wasn’t the norm to be commercial airplay for our scene. Mc’s would rap on broadcast radio stations without official licenses at risk of fines to fight against the marginalisation of voices that come from certain demographics. Pirate radio stations such as Rinse FM, Eruption FM and Dream were massive in terms of pushing the culture.
There’s a feeling however that the group disbanded before they could capitalise on their moment further due to the pressure from outside forces like the police and financial restraints by not being able to tour. This allowed them neither to make money nor expand their fan base.
This is a recurring theme in our scene no matter how much it’s grown and developed from 22 years ago even though it feels like there’s no ceiling for our artists anymore in terms of success and global reach with people like Central Cee breaking America and places as far away as Australia loving and appreciating our music. it seems as though we have never been in a better place.
However, it’s proven in Giggs’ earlier career and Digga D’s recent experience and also his documentary how far establishments like the police will go in blacklisting artist and rendering them voiceless. However now, artists, have the resources and platform to combat this as shown in Digga D’s BBC-commissioned documentary ‘Defending Digga D’.
The line “Romeo Dunn” in the track ’21 Seconds’ is an iconic line on an even more iconic song and in that year they also went on to win Best New Comer and Best Garage Act at the MOBO awards in 2001.
Before ’21 Seconds’ was created the members of the group researched that radio at the time wanted a track that was 3 minutes 30 seconds. In an act of self-promotion when there weren’t any social media to go viral.
11 rappers had 21 seconds each to lay a verse, Asher D, Megaman, Harvey, Romeo, Lisa Maffia, kaish, Neautrino, G-Man, AC, Burrell, Face, Swiss, Oxide, Carl Morgan, Burrell and Kaish who executed the famous hook
They divided the track between them, resulting in each artist having a verse to showcase their ability. Every single of them delivered.
A lot of the crew went on to have successful solo careers and gifted us with two UK classics ‘Cry’ and ‘My Child (ooh child)’, Lisa Maffia released the album First Lady (2003), and Romeo’s Solid Love Romeo (2002). A.M Sniper is also an award-winning producer and dropped Offshore last year.
Asher D who’s arguably had the most impact and the most well-known as he decided to pursue acting appearing in the unflinching ‘Bullet Boy’, as well as 50 Cent’s ‘Get Rich or Die Trying’, as well as his role as Dushane Hill in ‘Top Boy’.
I feel that it’s important to stress again that without So Solid Crew there would no mainstream sucesss of Dizzee Rascals’ ‘Boy in Da Corner’, Kano’s ‘Home Sweet Home’ or even Giggs’ ‘Let Em Ave It’. Our favourite artists artist grew up on music made by the kids that grew up on the Battersea estate on South London and we are thankful that they had the courage to pick up a pen.
Words by Tyrese King