So Solid Crew’s “21 Seconds”: Classic Sounds From the UK
So Solid Crew is a UK-based garage band who made waves in the UK for their single, “21 Seconds.” Released in 2001, the song gave each member in the 12-piece collective 21 seconds to prove their lyrical abilities. The group’s only female member, Lisa Maffia (and whose daughter gives a snarky laugh at the beginning of the track) explains the strategy behind the song “[Fellow So Solid Crew member] G-Man suggested that if each artist had just 21 seconds that would add up to the length of a single.” She told The Guardian. “The most difficult thing was editing it for the radio because people had to be removed.” The song is best known for its two-step beat. UK garage — an electronic offspring from US garage, and where the song falls under — has a 4/4 time baseline that is similar to house music. And it usually has a soulful crooner laying down vocals over the beat. But in this case, the So Solid Crew dropped freestyles that sounded aggressive over the minimalist beat “Megaman up first and he won't second no shit. I ain't got the time to smoke this, hold this.” Spits Dwyane Vincent, known by his stage name, Megaman. “Yo G, roll by in a blacked out TT, Megaman carry two gats easy. Seeing stars, and a mister wanna jack me?”
“We were the first UK garage crew to go to No 1,” Dwayne told The Guardian. “The label was supporting members who weren’t signed to them — paying for cars, food and clothing.” This was a big move for the crew, as black artists still struggled to get support from major music labels. “Sometimes the label said they weren’t going to pay for something, but I was like: “You are, or I’m not leaving my house.” I was looking at the Puff Daddys and rappers of the world who were doing million-dollar videos, and I didn’t want to be any less cheesy than them.”
So Solid Crew released two solid studio albums. Their debut, They Don’t Know, enjoyed success in the UK, peaking at No. six on the Billboard charts, with its lead single, 21 Seconds, becoming a number one single on the UK charts, at the time. The song’s infectious beat spread throughout Great Britain and moving onto mainland Europe. If you want to appear somewhat enlightened while you’re visiting London Town, mention this throwback track, and that’s automatic daps.