Album Reviews

So Solid Crew – 2nd Verse

UK release date: 29 September 2003

Forget the bad vibes that surround So Solid Crew, the ban on live shows, the various arrests and just give them a chance. You might be pleasantly surprised.

2nd Verse has a clear American vibe to it, intriguing for a “U.K” Garage act. The beats that draw this link, largely courtesy of G-Man and Megaman are tight and, well, brilliant.

1st Verse addresses the ban on live shows, and suggests that this ban is more trouble than it’s worth. So Solid (Angry Beat) is a no-nonsense title for a no-nonsense track, but the violence portrayed on the track is as unnecessary as it is unwarranted. Leave Us Alone carries forward the aggression but is wisely softened by Lisa Maffia‘s input in the chorus.

It’s not all gangsta rap, though. So Grimey has more of an R ‘n’ B groove thanks to Sef and Swiss. You couldn’t be faulted for assuming the track was produced by The Neptunes, which is just about as large a compliment as you could receive at the moment.

The beauty of So Solid’s ridiculous number of members is that there’s an abundance of different vocals and different rapping styles. 21 Seconds may have showcased this in a rather unorthodox way but 2nd Verse illuminates the fact across 15 songs.

The album’s title track slows the lyrics down before sending the tempo into overdrive. Despite this, the tune is surprisingly coherent, and even if you can’t follow it you should be able to appreciate the background chant. This is in stark contrast to Colder and its first verse being rapped in French. An obvious parallel would be Missy Elliot‘s All In My Grill, but the input of the So Solid Kids reminds you of Jay Z‘s Hard Knock Life.

Bou Bas will test even the finest sub-woofers. Lyrically it’s not great, but the bass on the track forces you to nod your head to the beat. Unfortunately, So Solid Crew haven’t reached the level where they can release an album without at least one weak track. Money Maker is the poorest tune on 2nd Verse; ignoring the fact that I can’t stand Romeo‘s voice, the lyrics are horribly juxtaposed with a beat far too heavy for the track.

Current single Broken Silence is more effective, with the soft beat enhanced by the clever use of flutes, and epitomising the mellow “flava” of the track. The song addresses the problems facing Britain’s growing urban ghettos and sees So Solid even threatening to elevate themselves to a revolutionary status. As absurd as that may be, it works. The message of the track, and of the album, boils down to a simple:”Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”

Maybe Britain is in the midst of what the U.S faced with the arrival of N.W.A – an aggressive urban message infiltrating suburbia. The gut reaction of many may be to stop this at all costs. However, it’s only music – which is my only concern. So Solid Crew have produced a fantastic album and the quality of 2nd Verse is undeniable. However, they are verging on American imitation and their search for identity needs to gather pace.

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So Solid Crew – 2nd Verse