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Oi! Respect! Aiii!

Based mostly in South and East London and populated by kids from rough council estates, today's UK garage scene still thrives through underground pirate radio.
December 1, 2002, 12:00am

It's more Fire Crew innit?

Based mostly in South and East London and populated by kids from rough council estates, today’s UK garage scene still thrives through underground pirate radio where kids who call themselves things like MC Gappyrider rap a weird blend of Jamaican patois and cockney over all the new garage 12”s. The music’s like old school garage but sped up about ten times and now they say things like: “This one goes out to the Morrison’s shelf-stacking posse working the night shift tonight.” So far the biggest stars to come out of the pirate UK garage scene have been the duo Oxide & Neutrino (whose first hit sampled the BBC drama Casualty) and their boys So Solid Crew, a 20-odd collective of DJs, bad boys, pit bull terriers, and nasty hangers-on. So Solid’s gigs usually attract trouble. Considering that gun crime in South and East London has skyrocketed by a million percent in the last two years, it’s hardly surprising. Last November some people got shot inside the London Astoria at a Cristal and coke-fueled So Solid party. There was blood all over the Burberry and all the girls were crying and album sales soared. For a while So Solid were the only underground garage crew to have a mainstream hit, but now they’ve got loads of competition. Three 18-year-old kids from East London, Ozzi B, Neeko, and Lethal B make up the More Fire Crew, who so far have had the biggest UK garage hit of the year with “Oi (Who’s That More Fire Crew).” The track has pulverized So Solid’s recent efforts. Because More Fire Crew have been getting props from both the underground and the mainstream, it seems that So Solid’s less famous members and hangers-on are getting jealous of the trio. “All these people asking ‘Who do we fink we are?’ It just fueled us, man,” explains Neeko excitedly, “made us wanna get it out — write it down. And that’s where we got ‘Oi (Who’s That More Fire Crew).’” I went to see a So Solid show last week and I’ve never seen security like that before. There were airport metal detectors, huge metal barriers, and Doberman pinschers at the door. The show was amazing, but there was a nasty sense of unfulfilled ultraviolence in the air. More Fire Crew had been billed to play but they ended up not showing. Seems some heavy So Solid crew boys had made some threats towards More Fire’s boys. So Solid have even made a diss track about More Fire, which is going to hit pirate radio stations in the next fortnight. Even if the song’s not a hit in the charts, everyone is going to know about it. And you can bet that somebody, somewhere in London, is going to get a cap in their head.