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 So Solid - Since You Went Away
 

So Solid, unquestionably the most influential British urban act of the 21st century, are back with a new single and album, still blazing a trail that others can only follow but never quite match. Founding members Mega, Romeo and Lisa Maffia have decided to regroup and re-energise to produce the first single from their as-yet-untitled new album 'Since You Went Away', a liquid slice of street-smart R&B, smooth and rough in equal measures. Listen to it once, and realise this: it's good to have them back.
 
Press Release
 
So Solid, unquestionably the most influential British urban act of the 21st century, are back with a new single and album, still blazing a trail that others can only follow but never quite match. After stepping back from the spotlight a few years back to watch what they had created seep its way into the British mainstream and dominate not only the charts but all youth culture, founding members Mega, Romeo and Lisa Maffia have decided to regroup and re-energise. The results are scintillating. First single from their as-yet-untitled new album is 'Since You Went Away', a liquid slice of street-smart R&B, smooth and rough in equal measures. It's like stroking a cat that suddenly reveals its claws, like Mary J. Blige serenading Wu Tang Clan, and it's lethally addictive. Listen to it once, and realise this: it's good to have them back.
 
Biography
 


Of course, nobody really needs a refresher course on the short but spectacular career of the band once called So Solid Crew, and once boasting upwards of 32 members. Frankly, if you don't remember them, then you simply weren't alive - or residing within the UK - between the years 2001-2005. But their edited highlights will always make for fascinating re-reading.
It was back in early 2001, after the underground sensation that was their single 'Oh No (Sentimental Things)', that they signed to a major label and released '21 Seconds', the label's aim to capitalise on a genuinely urban music that was, as yet, largely untapped. A slice of sonic guerrilla warfare that promptly reinvented UK garage, '21 Seconds' sailed, much to the horror of the Daily Mail (for whom it sounded like trouble), straight to number one in the charts, and stayed there.
Rarely had urban music ever sounded quite so real, so vital. In short time, they became a genuine pop sensation. So Solid were everywhere. Within the year, they'd won Best UK Garage Act at the MOBOs. A year later, they won it again. They also scooped Best British Video at the Brits, and the hype that was by now surrounding them was as visceral as anything ever generated by punk, or new wave, or grunge, or Britpop.
Though ultimately revolving around core members Mega, Romeo and Lisa Maffia, the band's lineup was becoming ever more unwieldy, the trio readily inviting incoming rappers and MCs into the fold whenever they came across fresh talent (which was often). Each brought their own deliberately clashing ideas to a band so full of them that they very often didn't find a viable outlet. There were clashes - of both ego and personality, and it was this very vitality that was to bring about their (temporary but, if we can be honest here, entirely thrilling) downfall.
"Did things get out of hand for a while back there?" Mega repeats. He nods his head almost proudly. "You could say that, yeah."
Because they rapped and sang about real life as they had lived it, So Solid were inevitably branded as bad boys and girls. They were controversial and dangerous; they courted notoriety. Violence followed wherever they went, and though they never directly encouraged any such behaviour themselves, it nevertheless followed them around like a bad smell. Eventually, their live shows became so fraught that live shows were no longer possible, and tours were scrapped.
But no matter, because by now the core members were beginning to express their talents in other ways, and down other avenues.

In 2005, each of them went their own way.
Mega - who, two years previously, had managed to make 3m in as many months via his many fingers in many pies −− increased his entrepreneurial skills to such an extent that GQ magazine hailed him the urban Richard Branson. He developed his own music and publishing company, a clothing line, and helped set up a number of charities.
Lisa Maffia, always the "First Lady" of So Solid, wasted little time in forging a successful solo career for herself, notching up consecutive Top 10 singles and supporting Christina Aguilera across European arenas. She too set up her own independent label, Maffia Recordz, which became home to artists like Northstar and fellow So Solid founder, Romeo. Over on ITV2, meanwhile, she took part in, and won, 'Celeb Air', which Simon Amstell never failed to bring up on her numerous winning appearances on 'Never Mind the Buzzcocks'. Lisa always laughed out loud.
And then there was Romeo. Romeo embarked on his own successful solo career (which included a duet with Christina Millain) and, like Lisa, also branched out into television, starting with shows like Channel 4's 'The Games'. Always the most stylish member of So Solid, he landed his own game show, 'Fool Around With Romeo', in which he was put into a Big Brother-style environment with four girls and had to guess which of them was single. As the smile he wore throughout the show suggested, he had a lot of fun in his quest. The man has subsequently modelled within the pages of GQ, FHM and Glamour, asked back time and again for good reason.

So, yes, So Solid proved to be quite a launching pad. But no band who ever exerted so much influence so quickly could possibly lie dormant forever, and now, on the eve of 2010, they are back to make history all over again. As far as Mega, now 30, is concerned, their story is only just beginning.
"Do we personally feel responsible for the likes of Dizzie Rascal and N-Dubz?" he muses. "No, but I'm sure we helped pave their way, and it's clear we've been a major influence for all kinds of people."
You can say that again. They changed the musical landscape, throwing open the doors to a bunch of crews who, arguably, would never have had success had So Solid not had it first. While they continue to work with upcoming acts, intent on finding and developing new talent all the time, they retain that same hunger that got them all the way to number one almost a decade ago. Even a cursory listen to their new album will tell you that.
"We made certain mistakes the first time around," Mega concedes, smiling again, "but then, doesn't everyone? Doesn't mean we'll make the same mistakes again, does it? We already feel we've proved everything we ever needed to, but now what we're about is proving to ourselves just how far we can take this. The aim is to take it all the way."
Get ready for their return. It isn't about to disappoint.

 
 
 
So Solid
Since You Went Away
Mega & Co./IMS
Download available: 18th January 2010
CD released: 18th January 2010
 
Available Mixes (Download and CD)
Since You Went Away (Radio Edit)
Since You Went Away (7"Mix)
 
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