Introducing DJ Tommy B, Flava, Reepa, Kenzie, Rocky B, MC Freek, Melo-d, Strider, Krazy, Spike-e. With an average age of 16 they make up the hottest garage crew out of London right now - Blazin' Squad. Taking their inspiration from the likes of So Solid Crew, Heartless Crew and Pay As You Go they mix up hip-hop, R&B and Garage minus the thugged out gangsta shtick into the sort of Urban pop you could take home to meet the parent. We caught up with half of the Squad to find out how it all blew up over ground.
Q: You started back when you you were 13 as two different crews, Blazin' Squad and the Incredible Crew. How did you hook up together?
Tommy B: We were all in the same School and lived in the same area, but at two different ends and two different crews and then we just sort of came together and merged. With the two crews going on at the same time we always had this rivalry going on between us even though at the end of the day we were still friends.
Flava: One of the reasons that you get together as a crew rather than being just one or two of you is that you don't want to leave anyone out. And when it comes to the album, its good having so many people in the crew because you don't end up just sounding like one artist - there's so many MC's and different styles going on it ends up sounding like a compilation CD.
Rocky B: Each track is shared out equally so that each person gets to MC on the track.
Q: The very first track you did, "Standard Flow", cost about £200 quid to record and then it's just took off from there. Rags to riches or what?
Kenzie: We went down to the studio and it was the first CD that Taps and Terry (Producers) gave us was nothing like Standard Flow as it is now. We went away, re-wrote it and recorded and they asked a few people for remixes. And BMB made a remix with Elephant Man, which got released, and it went to number 3 in the garage charts, EZ and the Dreem Team were playing it.
Tommy B: We've got our own record label Weighty Plates, which we set up with us and the producers, and in a way that's why there's so many of us. It cost £200 and we all had to chip in £20!!!
Q: The first proper single "Crossroad's" out on 19th August. A cover of the Bone Thugs and Harmony track. How did that come about?
Flava: I heard it on MTV, liked the song. I knew that it a massive hit in America, but didn't work in the UK the first time round. I played it to these guys and we decided to cover it. It's not really a cover though...we've taken the chorus, re-wrote the raps and added a totally different beat behind it so it's a more mellowed out tune.
Q: Who was it you were listening too that made you think we can do it?
Rocky B: So Solid Crew, Heartless Crew. Pirate Radio. In the past people have had to look to America, but now Urban music is doing well and the people that are making live down the road from us. They're bring it up for us. But we listen to everything - hip-hop, R&B, reggae. And that's why it shows through in our music.
Kenzie: All the crews came out of pirate radio wise. Heartless, Pay as You Go and So Solid came through that. They got their recognition through that and we didn't do that. We went straight in and made a song just to get out there.
Q: Finally, I heard someone call you So Solid Juniors the other day. What's your take on that?
Tommy B: There's really only a few crews breaking out of the underground. And because So Solid Crew have got that thugged out image, a lot of people in London are trying to imitate that and just chat about guns and violence. We just why should we chat about that? We ain't involved in guns, but a lot of crews say they carry gats and everyone knows they don't.
At first I thought the record company was turning us into a pop group and I didn't really want to do that. But when your there you realize it ain't so bad. I think we have got a pop sound - but it's more Urban pop instead of just cheesy pop.
"Crossroads" is out August 19th on East West
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