21 Seconds – So Solid Crew (2001, Relentless Records, Taken from ‘They Don’t Know’)
One of the things that sticks in my mind the most about 2001, was it was the year that first, The So Solid Crew and then secondly, Grime came to everyone’s attention. This was not because the So Solid Crew were particularly good but because they brought with them a notoriety not seen since days of the 2 Live Crew. Wherever they went moral panic seemed to follow them, largely fuelled by the right wing press who focussed on the fact that these upstarts came from inner city estates in London and had links to gang culture and the glorified guns and drugs. Some of that was true. It was true that the So Solid Crew grew up, formed and for a while lived on inner city estates in the Battersea area of London. It was true that some of the crew (and remember more than 30 individual artists were at some point linked to the So Solid Crew) had links to some gangs and some of them had been in trouble with Da Babylon before, but did they glorify guns, drugs and gangs, no they didn’t.
What they glorified was highlighting struggles, prejudice, and deprivation. They also brought attention to grime music, dragging it from the back street clubs of inner city London to the nations lounges, and with it a whole host of new acts, SJs, MCs and clubs emerged, some of whom would in the next few years become absolutely massive. Despite all that So Solid Crew failed to make my Top Ten tracks of the year, because despite being dangerous to know, they were just about mediocre when it came to their musical output.
On the other side of the musical coin, whilst grime set it’s place at the table, two bands from the States had polished off the cake and were starting on the big cigars and were on the phone to the Pink Pussycat. Because at Numbers 1 and 2 respectively were where you would find easily the two best bands of the year, The White Stripes and The Strokes
Hotel Yorba – The White Stripes (2001, XL Recordings, Taken from ‘White Blood Cells’)
Last Nite – The Strokes (2001, Rough Trade Records, Taken from ‘Is This It?’)
If So Solid Crew brought grime to the masses then some of the credit for bringing garage music into people’s lounges in 2001 must surely go to Mike Skinner and The Streets. In 2001 he burst on the scene with the lop sided smoke filled classic that is ‘Has It Come To This?’ and the subsequent ‘Original Pirate Material’ that followed it the following year saw an entire new audience opening up to garage music.
Has It Come to This – The Streets (2001, 679 Records, Taken from ‘Origiinal Pirate Material’)
Another genre that was getting a new audience in 2001 was that of the so called Car Boot Techno genre that was coined about five years earlier by Bentley Rhythm Ace but was almost perfected in 2001 by The Avalanches (who sat at number six with ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’)
Frontier Psychiatrist – The Avalanches (2001, Modular Records, Taken from ‘Since I Left You’)
The rest of my top ten saw a familiar mixture of indie, dance and hip hop. Kylie’s electroclash floorfiller ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ came in third, at five was ‘Juxtaposed With U’ by the Super Furry Animals, Gorillaz was at seven with ‘Clint Eastwood’ and at eight was this storming piece of hip hop brilliance.
Get Ur Freak On – Missy Elliot (2001, Elektra Records, Taken from ‘Miss E…So Addictive’)