RIDE WITH US
The British underground music scene has always been a vibrant and innovative environment. The mixture of clubs, DJs, live acts and of course music really came together in the sixties to influence all elements of British youth culture and this has been the case right up to the current day. Rock & Roll, Punk, Lovers Rock, New Romantics, Acid Jazz, Garage, Jungle, Drum & Bass, Grime are all genres that came from the underground and penetrated mass culture. There have been many key moments in the rich history of UK music and the emergence of SO SOLID in y2k can certainly be counted as one of them. Their story is pivotal to the commercial fortunes of inner city music today and you can pinpoint their position in the timeline as the time when inner city music and lifestyle took a different form on the musical landscape penetrating the mainstream, attracting news coverage and fuelling social comment.
The collective were a crew mainly male who had grown up in inner city South London. As individuals they had their own talents and aspirations, you know ‘they wanted to make it’ they were ambitious. Yet the reality of the environment they were living in was a different story. A lot of black on black crime, high youth unemployment, institutional racism, drugs and many other negative social conditions [that have since been clearly confirmed as being evident back then], were obstacles they had to navigate. As always music keeps you going through life, especially when you are young and this was no different for the So Solid kids growing up.
They had been influenced by the soul and reggae music of their parents’ and the sound systems of the eighties such as the Coxone sound and Saxon International. Plus the emerging dance sound of Soul II Soul and the UK Hip Hop pioneers The London Boys, veterans like Rodney P and co. They were aware of the chart music and the great pop acts of the eighties but nineties UK was different, the underground had the UK dance scene; house and then Jungle and the UK streets also had that staple influence of US Hip Hop and RnB music and culture which were also major influences in the So Solid style and substance. So in the very late nineties when MEGAMAN put the So Solid Crew together and they started free-styling on radio – they had this rich musical heritage in their make-up and a sense of the levels they had to reach. Fundamentally they didn’t sound like British kids rapping American, they sounded just like any UK inner city kid, their flow was British, South London to be exact.
They put it all together and came with a sound and style that would set the tone for young UK inner-city kids for the next ten years. In addition to their unique style the other difference they had with those that had come before was their impact on mainstream culture. Previously UK underground ‘black’ music had mainly stayed just that – underground, there were cross-overs but in general it had to be simulated or diluted first before mass consumption. With So Solid they did not simulate and they were reaching out to the kids outside of the inner cities with their undiluted music and lifestyle choices. It was an explosion and by 2002 they were the hottest act for UK teenagers and young adults. Asha D, Megaman, Romeo, MC Harvey and the first lady Lisa Maffia were urban superstars; they were young, successful, making music, money and living the dream. A Britt Award, Mobo Awards, merchandising, collaborations with the likes of Christina Milian and Asha spitting with 50 Cent, it really was all gravy.
Wherever they played the kids would come in droves and the time old question that links certain types of music to violence reared its ugly head. Their crowds were young and excitable, their influence was becoming a little too potent; this combination made them dangerous and their detractors ever more powerful and vocal. Councils and Police authorities were cancelling their shows thus limiting their potential to make money and this triggered a domino effect of commercial opportunities closing. Plus well publicised personal issues and instances of envy and road politics all combined to halt the rising So Solid rocket and bring it floating and in some instances crashing back to earth.
Chipmunk, Dizzee, Wiley, Baby Blue, Jessie J, Sway, Lethal Bizzle, Roll Deep, Boy Better Know and N-Dubz are just a few current day artists and collectives from the inner cities who site So Solid as major influences, the list is endless. Music executives will confirm that the revenue generated by the crew influenced subsequent decisions with regards to supporting urban acts and genres.
Most importantly inner city and disenfranchised young people everywhere were inspired by So Solid’s achievements.
Over the past ten years or so the collective have had varied careers as individuals, they have all continued to make music and some have added other media projects to their portfolios and we have continued to see them on our screens and in newspapers and magazines. During this period urban music has moved forward and UK inner city artists are now global superstars, think Dizzee Rascal, think Labrinth think Tinie Tempah as examples of how far forward some have travelled.
This year So Solid have returned as a collective. A selection of shows and one off performances including at this years MOBO nominations party have preceded the way to the main event; that being the release of their new album on Sept 30th 2013; featuring a compilation of their biggest hits and three brand new tracks. They will then go on a mini UK tour and perform LIVE at this years MOBO Awards ceremony and also at the London 02 November 14th. This will be the first time in seven years all the crew have been back together on stage and it has been reported that this will be their farewell year as So Solid.
The lead single ‘UK HOT WID IT‘ was released September 16th 2013 and the forthcoming LP is entitled Solid Soul: The Best Of So Solid. We recommend the album if you were there the first time around as a form of nostalgia to a key part of youth culture of the time. If you were not there the first time around well here is your chance to experience what all the fuss was about, and believe us when we say there really was a lot of fuss.
Megaman likes to put on a great show and the MOBO Awards are no shrinking violets either, so preparations are a foot for a stand out performance. This years awards ceremony in Glasgow promises much so you could do a lot worse than catching them there LIVE alongside the other global headline acts scheduled for this year. Alternatively you can catch one of their LIVE shows this Autumn [see dates below] it may be the last time you get to see them all whilst they are still young.
Next we review the album and more so catch up with you then.
SO SOLID SCHEDULED SHOWS:
Oct 1: Sheffield: The Plug
Oct 2: Norwich: The Waterfront
Oct 3: Birmingham: The Institute
Oct 4: Manchester: The Ritz
Nov 14: London: The O2
IN THEIR OWN WORDS: | WATCH NOW
‘SOLID SOUL | THE BEST OF SO SOLID’ | TRACKLISTING
01. SO SOLID: UK HOW WID IT (NEW TRACK)
02. SO SOLID CREW: 21 SECONDS
03. OXIDE & NEUTRINO: BOUND 4 DA RELOAD
04. SO SOLID CREW: RIDE WITH US
05. LISA MAFFIA: ALL OVER
06. SO SOLID CREW: THEY DON’T KNOW
07. SO SOLID CREW: HATERS
08. OXIDE & NEUTRINO: ONLY WANNA KNOW YOU COS YOU’RE FAMOUS
09. OXIDE & NEUTRINO FT. MEGA, ROMEO & LISA MAFFIA: NO GOOD 4 ME
10. SO SOLID: BAGPIPES (NEW TRACK)
11. ROMEO DUNN FEAT CHRISTINA MILIAN: IT’S ALL GRAVY
12. MC ROMEO FEAT LISA MAFFIA, THUG ANGEL & TIGER 2: ROMEO DUNN
13. LISA MAFFIA: IN LOVE
14. SO SOLID CREW: BROKEN SILENCE
15. SWISS: CRY
16. OXIDE & NEUTRINO FEAT KOWDEAN: DEM GIRLZ (I DON’T KNOW WHY)
17. OXIDE & NEUTRINO: UP MIDDLE FINGER
18. OXIDE & NEUTRINO: DEVIL’S NIGHTMARE
+ SO SOLID: EMERGENCY (NEW TRACK)*