1: What total number of seconds do you get if you add up the number of times So Solid Crew say ’21 Seconds’ in your 2001 single of the same name?
“Oh my word – how am I supposed to get this? I didn’t produce that track – that’s my get-out card!”
WRONG. It’s 651 seconds (So Solid Crew say ’21 Seconds’ 31 times throughout the track).
“That song was about letting the music industry know that So Solid is not just three members. The label said: ‘Look, you’ve got three-and-a-half minutes’, so we worked out that with at least 10 or 11 members, that’s eight bars each – 21 seconds. It was a simple calculation – but G-Man was always good with numbers. (Laughs) Everybody went into the studio and had 21 seconds to do their thing, and we took the hook from Kaish’s verse.”
2: Which actor told NME this year that growing up, “Megaman, Asher D, Skat D, Romeo, Lisa Maffia… these were my superheroes”?
WRONG. It’s Daniel Kaluuya.
“I salute Daniel, man! I love his style – I was invited to the premiere of his latest movie [Queen & Slim]. There’s not many people in the business who haven’t told us something like that. At the time, we thought we’d open the door and get 10,000 So Solids following us – but instead, we inspired millions of different artists in different industries.”
There’s a trend for musical biopics at the moment. Would you like to see a So Solid one?
“There’s always discussions about that. I wouldn’t let anything out of the bag if it was happening, but there’s been talks and we’ll see how it goes. We’ve been working silently behind the scenes on something but whether that gets to surface, who knows?”
Who would you like to play you?
“I don’t know. There’s not many Megas in the UK, but it’s definitely got to be a British actor.”
3: Which boyband member threw water over and tried to start a fight with So Solid Crew at the 2002 Brit Awards?
“Was it Brian from Westlife?”
“He was drunk. As I walking past, he was saying ‘You wankers!’ and one of our members told me: ‘He’s saying we don’t deserve that award [for British Video of the Year], man. Fuck off!’. He was being dysfunctional [to us] earlier on in the event and then the situation occurred where he threw water, we came back down, and there was a crazy little scuffle. (Laughs) But it calmed down and everybody apologised. That was the night when Brian had a little bit too much!”
4: You co-wrote So Solid member Lisa Maffia’s 2003 solo single ‘All Over’, which entered the charts at Number Two. Which band beat her to number one?
“Where are Busted these days?! I didn’t even remember they were the same time as us. ‘All Over’ was a cool track. Lisa had spunked a lot of the album money before she had completed it, so we were on our last legs to get this right. JD wrote the track and I wrote the verse quickly halfway between a game of pool in the studio. It was always the plan to have one or two So Solid members on any solo tracks we did – me, Swiss and JD feature on ‘All Over’, and all of the So Solid Crew are in the video. Asher was different because he was going to prison, so him and Swiss had to rush the process and I didn’t get to be hands on with that project at all. But everyone was meant to have that So Solid feel – musically and visually.”
Didn’t you reject a The Neptunes remix of ‘All Over’?
“Yeah, I flew over to their Virginia studio and sat with one of their producers. I was pissed off that I didn’t meet Pharrell ‘cos I thought I was the shit, had flown from England, and should meet someone I’d recognise. We didn’t like the mix we got back. They took out the warmth and made it thin and Neptunes-y, so we stuck with the original mix, which was perfect.”
Did you ever turn down anything else big?
“We were planning on making the second record [‘2nd Verse’] a double-album – a garage album as well as a hip-hop one. I spent £15,000 getting Kelis on a garage song – so I have her a cappella on a garage song, we have Beenie Man on there and we were planning on having Nelly Furtado on there too. It would have been groundbreaking for UK garage music, but the A&R was against it and the label only put out the hip-hop side.”
5: Romeo reworked ’21 Seconds’ for car insurance firm Confused.com in 2013…
“(Interrupting) Why did he do that?! He could have done it a lot cooler. When I saw it, I was like: ‘Oh you needed Mega to be in the studio with you bro!’ (Laughs) I hope they paid him well!”
…What is the name of the robot he raps with?
“OH MY WORD! I don’t have insurance with that company, but I’m meant to know the robot’s name because I’ve seen the advert?! Is it Tony or Tommy the Robot?”
WRONG. It’s Brian the Robot.
“(Laughs) Had no clue! I was gonna say a number. That’s the cheesiest thing I’ve ever seen Romeo do in his life. It’s going to haunt him for the rest of his days!”
6: So Solid’s Romeo and Harvey both appeared in separate seasons of Celebrity Big Brother. Can you name either of the positions they finished in?
“Oh man! I think Romeo finished in seventh place and Harvey was sixth?”
“Tick that answer bro! (Laughs) I wish I could have done Big Brother. When we went to the grand final, Emma Willis [former Big Brother host] told me she loved our music growing up and knew all the words. I did Coach Trip for my mamma – she’s a fan. And Harvey said: ‘If you don’t come with me, I can’t do it!’. I was like: ‘Bro, just holler at Brendan [Sheerin, Coach Trip tour guide] – let him know I’m coming for my mamma!’ I’m not shy of that stuff. I only used to experience what cool, street people did – now I want to feel like a geek! I want to sit on panel shows, crack jokes, and win points while drinking vodka or wine out of a cup pretending it’s tea!”
7: In February, which Manchester rapper covered ’21 Seconds’?
“Jesse Lingard? Sorry – I thought you said Manchester footballer! It’s Aitch. I tweeted my support for him.”
CORRECT. Although the Man U midfielder is a So Solid fan.
“I’m good friends with the label, Since 93, that signed Aitch – run by Glyn Aikins, who is the A&R that signed So Solid and made our dreams come true. Aitch is good. People say we paved the way for grime, but not only did we inspire the streets to have that avenue into the music business, because we were first through the door, we caused major companies to set up shop, and then the flood happened. We inspired that grime generation – everybody between ’98 and 2004 – to get on TV and we’re proud they’ve picked up that torch and carried it through themselves.”
Any chance of new So Solid Crew music?
“It depends. There’s tonnes of music. The guys have always made music, I’ve always made features, but I just wouldn’t release and market it as So Solid. It needs proper support. We’re a brand that stood amongst giants. Releasing fresh So Solid music, I’d rather it was attached to a biopic – something more inspirational than: ‘Here’s a naked album, some videos, I’m showing off, I’m flossing, look how cool I can rap, buy me’. Nah, I’m 40-years-old now – I’ve got to give you more artistry.”
8: Which former Home Secretary once branded So Solid Crew’s lyrics “appalling”?
“Is it David Blunkett?”
“He’s cool, man. Bless him. It was a different time then – the things that are happening now are way worse than the things we were accused of. We don’t mind taking the hit for everybody – the hit was hard at the time but we’re still here today and also doing other things.”
Was there ever a feeling at the height of your success that the establishment wasn’t going to let you enjoy it?
“I think there was, and they did spoil it for a little bit – but not too long. I’m not the type of person who professes how hard I’ve had it. I’ve had to adopt a different frame of mind having to keep an eye on so many members over the years.”
9: Name any two of the other acts who appeared on So Solid Crew’s debut Top of the Pops appearance in 2000 when you performed ‘Oh No (Sentimental Things)’.
“I love Dido and I should have known Westlife! How did Bob The Builder get on Top of the Pops?! Seriously! You look at that crazy line-up and realise that we were the only UK urban act out at that time. Like, come on UK, get your act together!”
10: Which Newport group recorded a ’21 Seconds’ parody called ’21 Ounces’?
“I met them a couple of times. I had to clear it for usage, so I did hear it, but I wasn’t really into their music. Sorry Goldie Lookin Chain/Goldie Lookin Rings/Goldie Lookin Watches! I appreciated them using it, but if it was a little more serious, I’d have followed it.”
The verdict: 5/10
“Come on, Mega! Yeah, that’s a good score bro – respect!”
So Solid Crew celebrate their anniversary with a new ’21 Seconds’ EP, available digitally on 24 April.