SO SOLID CREW
Interview by Rick Thorne
From Murder Dog Vol 9 #2 (2002)
What kind of environment is your shit coming out of?
Megaman: The environment is just street. There's ghettos in every fuckin' country, and in most countries it could be worse, but in the U.K. our ghetto is our ghetto and our street is our street y'know. And our fuckin' hometown is our hometown. And that's what we speak about, experiences from back in the day up to this day. We'll always be talkin' about that.
Break down what So Solid is all about.
Megaman: We're about music, black music man. Music that we used to listen to when we grew up man, that's what it's about, and just fuckin' tellin' people how it is on the street. Whatever we wanna tell them we sayin', whatever comes up in our head, whether it's bad or good. However you wanna take it, take it.
Describe your music for people who've never heard it.
Megaman: It's not about the music man, it's about the vocals, it's about the lyrics man. That's what you've really gotta concentrate on with So Solid. Forget about what type of music, it could be R n' B, rap or garage. We don't want to be stereotyped under any type of music, we just wanna be recognised for what we're sayin' in our music.
Where are you all from in London?
Megaman: South. Clapham Junction.
What are your roots as black British people?
Megaman: We're African-English, Jamaican. The way England's been promoted, all the fuckin' real shit, all the problems when people like us from the streets get fuckin' exposed in the media to a certain degree, is that they kinda hold it down to their own premises, they don't exploit it all over the world. So what you're hearin' in different countries is like the queen's side of things, the watered-down side of shit. And that's how it's really controlled. It's like the music that they exploit from America, we're hearing most of the east coast shit. We don't get to hear the grimy stuff because the real grimy shit is kept in America. So the real grimy shit in the U.K. is really controlled and unless we get a bit more independent as black artists, as black youts growin' up, the world won't really get to see the real side of it. It's down to the media 'coz they're just controllin' and they exploit it and promote it in that sort of way. It's no different to the other side of the world. It's just that they ain't seen it man, it's not been exposed to them. If they really use their common sense properly as street niggas, they'll understand that it's everywhere man, black people are everywhere.
Would you say your music is garage?
Megaman: We broke through garage. The music that we wanted to do, R n' B and rap, in the U.K. they weren't supporting that 100 percent. So we had to choose the next channel to actually spit. We were actually rappin' on garage tunes, singin' soul songs on fuckin' garage tunes, to a faster tempo. And as we broke through which is now and establish our own companies and businesses, we can actually do what we want. Actually put out rap and put out R n' B and do that type of shit.
Face: They thought it was garage yeah, and then they found out that it's not. What is your music? It's our music and that's all we say, we don't know, it's our music. We broke through calling it garage to get out there, so now we're in the position of showin' them what the fuck we can do innit. We can fuckin' rap, we can sing, we can spit. That's how far it's goin' and what they're producing, we're producing but I think better. You can call it garage because it's got a piece of garage, it's got a piece of rap, it's got a piece of music you don't even understand, foreign language you see what I'm sayin'? We're in the element of everything. We've tooken in, now we're lettin' out. The dictionary's all I take in now and reading.
Swiss: Call it street music man.
How did you hook-up with your record label Relentless?
Swiss: They knew that we was bangin' in the streets. They knew we had the shit locked. They knew that there was something big on the underground innit, so they're just bringin' us to the commercial side of shit. Their ear was to the streets blood.
Face: And we wanna get out of the streets so we give them us, but not too much of us though. They've only got like two man's tune from the crew and remember we're 30 strong. That's why the crew's so big, so we can have a part of everything. Puff Daddy, he only comes out certain times innit, we come out every day. I bought five newspapers today, we're in all of them.
What have you got lined up next?
Megaman: Seven to ten albums this year ready to blow. We got seven acts already signed, so it's like three more acts we're heading for the jackpot this year man. Takin' over everything. We've already done the So Solid Crew album, released it went platinum in two-and-a-half weeks, so directly it's like the individuals are goin' out there now. Couple of them are on different labels but the rest of the crew's signed to us. Everyone that gets any dough outside of So Solid or with their next record label is signed through So Solid Crew Productions. So it will be fully produced by So Solid, fully vocalled by So Solid, unless that individual artist wants to collaborate with any other artist.
How many copies has your album sold in the U.K.?
Megaman: 400,000 the last time I heard.
Are there plans to take it outside this country?
Megaman: Yeah most definitely, but most of the majors in America are a bit ignorant man. They're a bit ignorant and biased and selfish. That's why I rate the fuckin' street niggas for doin' their own independent shit in America. That's how they've got through and that's how they done their shit. And it's like we have to get the same link. And unless those niggas, when they come over here link up with real niggas like us or we link up with them over there, they ain't gonna make a big impact here and we ain't gonna make a big impact over there. So we just gotta link the two ghettos from different countries, and just say 'yo, there's the shout here blood, well if you can get me that link across there blood and make my shit blow no doubt.' We got our shit on lock over here, we'll make your shit blow. Y'get me? And we can like just make money.
Did you look at what people like Master P were doing in the U.S.?
Megaman: I looked on niggas like that and I understood if they can do it why the fuck can't we do it over here? See how I view So Solid as well, like how their situation, the mainstream market ain't ready to take on their shit? The world mainstream market ain't ready to take on So Solid's shit. It's like they can't handle it, they don't really understand how powerful it is. Until it's in your pocket or until it's sittin' right next to you, you don't understand the power of So Solid. It's kinda like hit them smack in the face because if they saw this comin' I'm tellin' ya we woulda had problems from day dot.
Are you surprised by your success?
Megaman: My dreams are deja vus blood, all of 'em. Everything we've done here has been predicted y'get me. I've spoken it from my lips and the man dem have seen it and it's happened.
Why do you think you're catching so much shit from the media over here?
Megaman: It's normal, it's the U.K. man. Everyone criticizes everyone blood. Everyone's got too much pride, nah don't do this don't do that, don't say this don't say that. What we done we stepped out of it and said 'fuck you, we gonna do what we wanna do' and they've jumped on it. Ya see what it is, I don't really give a fuck what they say in the media because publicity's publicity.
How do you feel when prominent black figures over here are also coming down on you?
Megaman: A lot of black people get up there and get brainwashed and start goin’ on with different things. There’s a representative for the mayor of London yeah, a black guy, back in the day he knows how it goes. But he knows if he goes up on the screens and starts blamin’ certain yardies and certain real niggas of what’s really happenin’ on the street and the police bring heat on them, they’re knockin’ on his door. They think we’re kids, they think we don’t really know people on a deep level so they’re targetin’ us, thinkin’ ‘ah, these guys are a bunch of jokers’. It’s like you know who shot the brother down the road, you know who killed him, you can find that out. Certain people from the government and police are sending informers over from different countries, sendin’ these yardies over here and certain other people to deal with certain tings. But when it happens it’s like ‘who can we blame now, how can we cover this up? Fuck it, blame it on So Solid’. You know how it is, it happens in all countries man. People come over to lick down a nigga and just dust back.
Swiss: Bad publicity’s good publicity. We don’t give a fuck.
How did you start in pirate radio?
Swiss: The pirate radio started from the streets. Like we got money from wherever, sellin' drugs, and we got on the first radio station and we got to see the pirate game innit. And we learnt from that and made our own shit innit. From there it just kicked off, our friends came with us to that radio station, our own one and it just grew bigger. The first one was Supreme FM, then we made our own one Delight FM. From there it's still goin' on now, goin' strong. 103 FM.
When did So Solid start to get a buzz?
Swiss: It started on the first radio station. There was a buzz 'coz we brought something new to that station. Through knowin' we had that buzz, made our own shit y'get me. We brang somethin' new straight away. Then we got our other radio station and that's when the tunes started comin'.
What are your gigs like?
Swiss: Off the heezy, off the hook blood. You really need to be there to feel the vibe. It's not really a clash ting, we're just there to perform. We're playin' garage and we're playin' our music. We play hip-hop, little bit of ragga in there y'get me?
Do you rhyme over instrumentals?
Swiss: Yeah and the emcee just rips it up. At the start of your set you play a couple of vocals innit and then you go into the instrumentals. Like we work together like that so the emcee knows when you're gonna throw on the instrumental and he knows it's his time y'get me?
Face: It's big shit, we're doin' what big people do. The clubs are rammed, we're doin' that over here.
What kind of audience are you attracting?
Face: It depends. We might make a hatin' tune innit, and that bad man that don't like the group might start a thing and come to the raves and gwarn with bad vibes in the raves. But we've got everybody, we've got every race you can think of down for So Solid, fuck it.
Do you listen to U.S. rap?
Face: Rap, I listen to everything. I listen to rock n' roll, heavy metal, everything. So when I spit music you can't tell me nothin'. It's inspiration really innit, everything's inspiration, music's inspiration.
Are there a lot of different characters in the group?
Face: Different characters, it's the same as the music innit, it's every element. The name So Solid says it. It's solid--we don't break, we take. So we got Oxide, he's a white guy, we got Neutrino, half-white half-black, Sniper and Trigger, they're Cypriots, they're from Ayia Napa. We're a mix of everything man but we started off black ghetto hustlin' strugglers from the same estates and we just adopted other people from different places. We're all good and we're gettin' better. It's like when we went to America the other day innit, we didn't think we were gonna adapt there but we took the rave by surprise and they was cheerin' for our shit. They went mad for our shit. We were in New York.
Had they heard your stuff before?
Swiss: I don't know, their cousin from England might've brought certain shits over there innit. They heard it and they was singin' along to our shit.
Face: There was man lickin' down walls and all of that stuff, y'know that party thing, pop, pop, pop! So it's like that, we're comin' like a storm.
You seem flexible as far as the emceeing and production is concerned.
Face: What it is, is we're not all emcees. It's cut into three. We got emcees in that part, producers in that part and singers in that group yeah. And now some singers are becoming emcees versatile, producers are becoming emcees versatile, some emcees are becoming singers y'see what I'm sayin'? I'm trying to learn the producing thing now. We're lookin' to just fuck it up man, we're greedy now, we want the big cake now, with three cakes on top and one high up.
Do you think people are trying to make scapegoats out of you due to
the rise in street crime that’s reported in the papers over here?
Megaman: If you listen to any of our tunes yeah, we ain’t never sayin’ ‘you niggas out on the road, go get a gat, kill somebody!’ We’re not sayin’ that in none of our lyrics. What we’re tellin’ the ghetto and certain street niggas, certain haters is that at the end of the day we’re comin’ from the same place as you’re comin’ from. Don’t fuck around. Because what you’re goin’ on with, I would still do the same ting, y’get what I’m sayin’. But I’m a bit more legal now, I wanna behave myself. But because we’re in the ghetto so we’re hearin’ all the bullshit daily, we’re seeing the tension. So it’s like it’s a stand-off point. We’re not talkin’ about gats, we’ll lick down a brother boom, boom, boom. We’re tellin’ niggas to back off because that’s what we’re capable of doin’ and we will do it if you push us to that point. Now they’re blaming us for exploitin’ it but we’re tellin’ people what we grew up around and what we would have to do if that same type of tension came to us. So that’s all it is,
Megaman: They’re twistin’ our words sayin’ ‘So Solid glamorise violence’.
We don’t glamorise violence, we just speak about it, and there’s a difference.
You don’t see me in my video walkin’ around with a gun. You don’t see
me up on the fuckin’ Brits or on the streets walkin’ round with a gun,
that’s glamorising a gat. That’s glamorising violence. I speak about
it ‘coz it’s around me every day and ‘til I’m out of it I won’t stop
speakin’ about it. And that’s how every fuckin’ street nigga is whether
they’re down there or they’re up here they’re gonna speak about reality.
Do you think people have ignored what’s going on for too long?
Megaman: The government and certain people that’s controllin’ tings yeah, they’ve spoke about it and it’s like speakin’ about it they’re tryna get it outta their home, off their doorstep. They got it off their doorstep for a certain period of time but they’ll never deal with the actual situation. It’s like they pushed it all over the other side of the waters. On the other side of the waters it’s like West End upper-class livin’ people, on this side of the waters it’s ghetto. It irritates me sometimes but that’s how life is, that’s how the U.K., the system, the mainstream market, that’s how it is.
Do you see that things are changing the U.K.?
Megaman: Until black people in the U.K. get a bit more independent and until brothers like us start to bring up more artists ‘coz this is what our business is about. Y’get me, publishing company, distribution, label, so what. This is what it’s all about, bringin’ the niggas from our ends up and feeding them the money which we are bleedin’ from their pockets y’get me. It’s more than music man. When you’re hustlin’ on the road everyone knows your goal is to get a big yard. Get a big yard, live nice, jewellery, big car. You get a big car in the ghetto it’s problems. You get a big yard in the ghetto it’s problems. So we know that the aim is to sell whatever we’re doin’, hustle whatever we’re doin’ and get out of the ghetto. Now, when we’ve got into the music a lot of street niggas been like ‘So Solid ain’t real, So Solid ain’t street’, we ain’t tryna be street. We’re past that street level, we’ve done that. We’re on the legal side of tings now y’get me, and we’re takin’ street niggas as soldiers to the other side, y’get what I’m sayin’?
What do you think you would you be doing now if it weren’t for the music?
At the end of the day if we weren’t in the music thing we’d be doin’ the same thing. And directly, if they flop us now we’re gonna go back to doin’ the same thing but we’re gonna have a bit more money. The way I see it, if I go back there’s gonna be a bigger problem than there was before y’get what I’m sayin’? Because there’s gonna be a lot of niggas in the crew that ain’t gonna be happy and they’re gonna start World War III out on the road. So it’s either you help us or you don’t help us, it’s your choice. We can make it worse for you or easier for you. No matter how big you are, you’re the government rah rah rah, we can make it as worse for you as anyone else on this earth. Make it easier for us man ‘coz we’re the guys that have no sense of fear, no sense of fuckin’ concern. We’re not concerned about nuttin’ in Britain. We’re concerned about our own shit, nuttin’ else. Y’get me, as far as I’m concerned you never know me, you weren’t concerning me, you weren’t concerned with what my parents did, what my grandparents did, you weren’t concerned since we land in this country, so don’t be concerned now. The tension in me is risen from day. And the reason why I'm kinda more angry is because certain times, when I was comin' up in the ghetto around my ends blood, there weren't no family or cousins blood that I could look up to. So I was on my own with my niggas, y'get me? But when you get older you understand that tension, it was a spur of the moment and it's somethin' that can't really play your mind for too long. Otherwise you'll get caught up in a position where someone is actually balancing your life on their little finger. If they wanna take you out they can take you out, you're gone. But let me show you somethin'. Whether it's the FBI, whether it's the army, whether it's the fuckin' special services or they get ninjas blood, if we lock down the ghetto blood, no one ain't comin' in there blood. No one.
How did So Solid get people out of that daily grind?
Megaman: We linked and we created something. You've just got to look over the past shit and understand to get what you're gettin' before it's too late, and if I can knock heads with you and squash it genuinely, make that move. There's a bigger picture and every nigga in this organisation has seen the bigger picture. That is why we've come together, knocked everything out of the way what's ever happened in the past or the grudges or the stupid shit, and we've come together and we're just doin' business. We've all got the same goals, we just ain't got the same opportunities, y'get me. And until we get the same opportunities then our minds will change and we'll do something constructive. So it's about creating the opportunities for our fellow brothers, instead of fuckin' havin' to suck up to someone that don't know your lifestyle, that don't know where you're comin' from. People don't understand that life is free, life is so fuckin' free and as long as you take that mentality and turn it into somethin' constructive, you're never really gonna understand that life is free. Don't ever tell yourself you can't do it. Don't ever tell yourself you ain't got enough to buy that. Otherwise you're never ever ever goin' to do it. You can put it like this, our parents were always tellin' us to go to school and do this and do that. Directly when you turn it into the opposite you're changin' your idea. You can actually be better off by not using the system. By making and creating your own law, your own frame of mind, your own rules. You decide what's right, what's good for yourself. See us, we be true to this. If we lose this we know what we're goin' back to, oh my god it's messy. So we understand we are not goin' back down that road again, seriously blood.
Web site: www.sosolid.com