Welcome to this week’s instalment of The Story of Pop: 2000, as we revisit another huge UK chart smash from two whole decades ago. This week: the tale of two South London teenagers who rocketed to the top with an unusual take on UK garage…
There could be little doubting that UK garage was the toast of the British music scene in 2000. But, as with all genres that start off underground and progress to the mainstream, this wasn’t without a renegade offshoot of the scene rearing its head.
Consisting of two south London teenagers, Alex Rivers and Mark Oseitutu, known as Oxide & Neutrino, were then – relatively unknown – members of the 100 piece strong collective of MCs, DJs, vocalists and producers known as So Solid Crew.
First available in white label at the end of 1999, and centred around notable samples of both dialogue from the Brit gangster flick Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and the theme tune to long running BBC medical drama Casualty, ‘Bound 4 Da Reload’ immediately caught the attention of EastWest Records, who signed the duo on the spot.
Once released, the single seemed to shoot straight in from nowhere to the top of the UK chart, adding Oxide & Neutrino’s names to the long list of acts who had made their debut at number one. But many radio stations got cold feet over playing it, specifically the Lock, Stock… dialogue sample which centred on the line ‘Could everyone stop getting shot?’
It meant that, even as So Solid Crew themselves went onto top the UK chart over a year later with their single ’21 Seconds’, Oxide & Neutrino felt airbrushed out of the burgeoning UK garage scene by the wider media and radio stations, something that was certainly not helped by both Neutrino and other members of So Solid Crew’s assorted brushes with the law in the two years that followed.
Hence why the following six singles they released between now and 2002 – all of which went top 20 – progressed along angrier and more violent lines which meant they never quite captured the same lightning in a bottle they did with their debut.
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