Now is a brilliant time for British underground urban artists.
Pop acts born of black inner-city culture such as N-Dubz, Tinchy Stryder, Chipmunk and, especially, Dizzee Rascal are crossover success stories, meanwhile American superstars such as Rihanna and Jay-Z look to Britain’s dub-step scene for ideas.
It is a dozen years since So Solid Crew, an underground act from Battersea in south London, with as many as 32 members, broke unexpectedly into the mainstream with “21 Seconds”, a minimalist UK garage track that knocked Atomic Kitten off the No 1 spot.
There has always been so much else surrounding them – firearms charges, assault, countless stabbings, even manslaughter – that it's easy to overlook any musical contribution they've made.
That said, when we meet a couple of days after this year's Mobo Awards, both Megaman and MC Harvey – who, along with MC Romeo and Lisa Maffia, formed the core of the group back in the day and still do, more or less, today – jubilantly point out that they received nothing but love and respect there from their peers.
It was the first break-out act for UK garage, the club scene that gave birth to two British urban styles that have dominated the 21st century so far – grime and dubstep.
Members were arrested for violence and firearms offences, one, Ashley Walters received a prison sentence, a fan was murdered outside a gig in Luton, and in October 2001 two men were shot and wounded at a London Astoria gig.
Spend time in their company and they won't let you leave until they have convinced you that they have been to the UK garage scene what The Beatles were to pop.
It is true, certainly, that they made quite an impact, and threw open the doors for the UK urban scene in general, but the truth is we do need reminding.
Perhaps none of this would have happened without So Solid Crew, a group recently reunited but unfortunately remembered more for the opprobrium once heaped upon them than their wider influence.
So Solid Crew, now called simply So Solid, are a sprawling collective that came together on Battersea’s tough Winstanley Estate as the Nineties drew to a close.
Led by Megaman (AKA Dwayne Vincent), they made their name on pirate radio and quickly signed to EMI subsidiary Relentless.
In August 2001 they had a number-one hit with the song 21 Seconds, the title referring to the time each MC had to rap their verse over the song’s skittering, minimal beats.
Every time they played live, the police were called in: there were knife fights, and on more than one occasion – through no fault of the band themselves – the fights proved fatal.