Their achievements cannot be under-estimated because while “urban music”, for want of a better term, is currently accepted by mainstream and importantly the labels, the same cannot be said of the period when So Solid came out. It was unheard of and so when a group of whipersnaps did blow it was made all the more amazing!
“Remember we only became relevant to the mainstream in 2000/1”states Megaman, who has come with the energetic and affable Harvey, “so at that time even when we were putting on our own raves, we were getting three thousand people turning up to see us at the raves. We were ramming out Astoria bigger than artists who were signed. So you've got to understand that, by the time we got to the labels, their work was easy.”
At the time pop music, not dance, was the money maker. With 21 seconds as a track, it was not just that it did not fit the template for the widely acknowledged way to achieve success, it positively baulked at the template, stepped on it and then ran through the consciousness starkers through lower, to middle, to the privileged sectors of England.
No one was ready!
“21 Seconds. They said it wasn’t a club track and it would not work. They said it was not a radio friendly track. They said that it wouldn’t work but when it went to number one they supported it!” states Megaman with an intense stare followed by a laugh that implies-“what fools”.
The surprise element of So Solid was probably another factor in their swift (certainly from a public perspective) ascent to icons and indeed inspirations for a young majority because at the end of the day, they were also still youngsters.
“We were all kids from Clapham Junction” laughs Harvey with a subtle hint of surprise even now “you are not going to think that you are going to be winning Brits and Mobos. It was mad because at the time when it was Mega, Mac and G hard on the road promoting things, I was playing semi professional football and I would come back at the weekends. It was crazy though because when I came back (and you know I had known these guys for years) there was this buzz going around.” Perhaps it was the fact of being young that helped. The age process can have a funny way of making the in built risk-o-meter very sensitive, something Harvey seems to suggest.
“We did not even know what we were really doing it is almost like subliminal genius, really. You are doing something and everything that you are touching is turning to gold. You have to look at all the majority of black people from fairly recent times, starting with Soul II Soul, and someone has decided we are the ones to burst out. By the time you realise it you have platinum albums, top tens and courts cases.” Harvey chuckles.
In no disrespect to Harvey however Megaman, as the mastermind behind So Solid, seems less surprised but that is partly due to the fact that So Solid was a vision for him.
“I am the conductor of the orchestra. I kind of make sure everything is in tune and make sure everything is moving. The real talent are the producers and the artists.”, he states in his measured manner. “The first little dream of me envisaging us being famous and having lots of money and making sure that could happen was the first empowering dream that I had. I don’t think that dreams are necessarily going to happen because you sometimes you have to work hard to make that dream a reality.”
As we talk, it becomes clear that, through the much publicised issues that have befallen the So Solid Crew that in their thirties, they are older and wiser. Further than that, they are keen to stress that the media vilification of them was completely unfounded and far from being a gang as Harvey states, So Solid was about empowerment.
“Those times in the 80’s and 90’s you had to be an adult from early on. All our street activities and our supposed gang issues happened when we were between 12 and 17.” Says Megaman with an openness that delves slightly into his own issues.
“I was on the other side of the law when I was seventeen and when I went inside that is when I had the dream and when I came out I said that I had had enough, I am not doing things this way. Two years down the line So Solid is signed, we are in deals, our own radio station, we are doing our own raves”
Harvey adds, “What people did not understand was So Solid was not a gang we had artists signed from different areas” and with an obvious astuteness for business with Megaman as the “conductor” it seems he made sure that his dream was water tight from that perspective.
“So Solid was built as an organisation to bring through talent and get these talents their first albums out of the way. It’s written in their contracts once you get your first album out of the way you are free to go.”
So ten years on and with their own kids, So Solid has made a return which technically should not happen because that many years out of the game- well you’re a has been but certain things have an indelible mark on periods of time.
Already with performances lined up at the MOBOS and the o2, it’s safe to say that on their initial return, So Solid are still relevant. People still want to see if they can relive the magic, create verses that never get old, and most significantly engross an old and new generation of music lovers when they drop their first nostalgically named single "Hot Wid The UK". They are going to be under scrutiny of course with some wolves waiting to take some big bites out of them but, right now right here, So Solid are doing it again and again!
“We do not have to fit in” states Harvey resolutely, “and I honestly say that with no arrogance because any artist that you watch in interviews from Chipmunk, to Wretch to Tinie they have all been affected. Tinie has a tune out now with J Cole what’s his first bar? 'Grew up listening to So Solid essentials' it says what it does on the tin and it will never be replicated or duplicated.”