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Tuesday, 13 November, 2001, 10:18 GMT
So Solid Crew's 'heartfelt' tunes
So Solid Crew:
So Solid Crew: Won two Mobo awards recently
Award-winning garage stars So Solid Crew have recently hit headlines for a variety of reasons. The BBC's Michael Osborn met the 30-strong group.

Garage outfit So Solid Crew seem completely chilled out as they get ready to appear on legendary chart show Top of the Tops.

About 10 of them are crammed inside a tiny dressing room in the bowels of the BBC's world-famous Television Centre.

 Click here to watch a clip of So Solid Crew perform 21 Seconds on Top of the Pops

Despite topping the British charts with their madly infectious song 21 Seconds To Go, this collective from south London are anything but your usual musical institution.

For starters, So Solid aren't a neatly-moulded group like the Spice Girls or Westlife. They are a self-made collective of men, women, children - oh, and there's even a dog in there somewhere.

But as I talk to DJ Swiss, one of the massive's more vocal members, it's clear that So Solid's roots lie at the heart of everything they do.

"We come from a different environment from where you grew up," says Swiss, scrutinising my clipped tones.

Oxide and Neutrino have had three top ten hits
Oxide and Neutrino have had three top ten hits
"We're segregated there, and people don't really want to know about it."

This sense of alienation is the message behind the Crew's new single You Don't Know, which has given them another top three smash.

"It's a tune from the heart," explains Swiss. "It's says that as much as people want to speculate about who we are and what we do, they don't really know."

But doesn't mainstream pop success pull you further away from your roots? My question causes a rumble of disapproval amongst the Crew.

'Struggle'

"We're not here to mess about, we're here to make music and make our mark that way," booms Swiss's voice through the murmurs.

"We've had to struggle for this, and we've been waiting a long time. We make ourselves, and we're here to keep our talent fresh," he explains to approving nods from the Crew's manager.

The controversy that has recently dogged the Crew is left off the agenda - the latest being an incident at the Astoria nightclub which left two men with gunshot wounds.

The Metropolitan Police said no member of the group was involved in the shootings.

But there is a sense that the collective are feeling the pressure of some less than favourable publicity.

'Empire'

"England ain't showing us no love," murmurs Swiss. But a crew mate chips in to quash recent speculation that they are considering a move abroad.

Until now, the driving force behind the So Solid ethos has remained quiet. Then MC Megaman begins to speak in erudite tones.

"We don't have much love for the music industry, but we still had to prove ourselves to them," he explains. "But we've grown into an empire and will help other young artists without having to go through the usual channels."

"There is a lot of talent on the streets. There are 1,000 more of us from where we come from," continues Megaman. "Our roots is our roots," he proclaims triumphantly.

Identity

As the posse prepares to perform on the oldest music show in the world, there is a sense that they are already part of the whole industry they are careful to disown.

But with such a powerful sense of identity, So Solid Crew may well have the power to stamp their own authority upon the transparent world of pop.

So Solid Crew's current single They Don't Know is out now on Independiente Records. Their new album is released on 19 November.

See also:

01 Nov 01 | Music
Two shot at So Solid Crew party
04 Oct 01 | Music
In Pictures: Mobos 2001
04 Oct 01 | Music
Mobos 2001: The winners
12 Aug 01 | Music
So Solid Crew top of the pops
02 May 01 | Music
UK garage DJ wounded
30 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Casualty theme tops charts
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