So Solid Crew, Battersea’s premier Garage horde, always delivered in their music videos. Every one of their short musical motion pictures packed in, amidst the asses, imitation leather, vehicles, and occasional explosions/lighting bolts courtesy of Windows 95, something profound. Not the music nor their words, as eloquent as they were, but specifically the images depicted on screen. Take the video for ’21 Seconds’, arguably their biggest hit, on the surface it’s the spastic tangle of a post-apocalyptic thunderdome housing estate and the unrestrained abuse of every Powerpoint slide-transition ever conceived, but look closer. Is every member of the So Solid Crew wearing entire outfits cut from the same large piece of fabric? To consider the significance of this small detail is indeed interesting, is it a critique on the modern worlds’s ravenous avarice and excessive depletion of the earth’s resources and the ramifications of this hunger? In the same image that depicts the world’s undoing they could also be extending a guiding hand, suggesting unity and peace amongst mankind and a system of common ideas and belongings that could be our only hope. Another example may also be found in ‘So Grimey’ released in 2003. The video depicts what could be a prepubescent chav’s wet-dream. Now consider where the video is set… nowhere… the ho’s and g’s and bills and blunts are just ineffectual figments floating in an existentialist void. The desires of modern man are meaningless and unfulfilling, that’s quite a bold statement for an early 00’s rap crew. Although the crux of the SSC’s ideology is rarely perceptible during the actual viewing process (much like other equally cryptic and enlightening films such as ‘Apocalypse Now’ or ‘Holy Mountain’) the meanings and morals of their stories are often planted deep within our subconscious and will often only seep into our conscious mind over the course of a few years. In this treatise I wanted to look at the music video for ‘Ride Wid Us’ whose allegorical side may run deeper than any other of the Crew’s outings. There is, of course, with all great works of this weight and representative style, some disagreements when it comes to the ‘true’ meaning behind it, and I must be candid with you now; I myself, a customer service assistant, a sauce-station technician, and occasional blogger, am unsure into what school of thought I subscribe to when it comes to So Solid Crew’s UK number 19 in April 2002. During the course of the following text I intend to go through the video in question, with you watching via link provided, and take a close look at each vital scene and notable event. I’ll explain my interpretation of each section and make a statement, perhaps on a symbolic level, or perhaps just from a literal point of view. Hopefully, by the end of this short piece, we will have achieved a better understanding of the deep, and no doubt dark and bizarre, world of ‘Ride Wid Us’ and by extension the entire So Solid Crew team.
Firstly, let’s get the music out of the way, there are only two sounds that comprise the backing track for this work of visual genius. The first to begin is a sort crackling noise that serves the function of a drum. Upon hearing this you may find shivers running up and down your spine, perhaps your hair will begin to stand on end, and you experience a goose’s skin developing upon your arms, I accredit this phenomena to the fact that the aforementioned noise bares a striking resemblance to that made when breaking babies’ bones with a tube of bubble-wrap. The second sound-piece that is lightly spread over the child-abuse/rhythm section and begins at the sixteen second mark. It’s the theme from ‘Knight Rider’. Later on there’s some kind of bassy moments that sound like a stroke probably would. Thus concludes my look at the actual musical part of this musical video.
The video begins with a girl…. oh… no, she’s gone… that’s her millisecond in the spotlight over… who knows who she was, what her dreams and aspirations where up on that crane. Probably considering suicide. She seem to stare, unfeelingly, into the distance. Just trying to find peace and oneness before the leap. Why wouldn’t you in a world so fast paced and garishly decorated? I said her millisecond in the spotlight but that’s like a decade in So Solid Crew time, she’s probably so tired, she just doesn’t have the energy any more, but really, what is the point?
We’re now taken to a bloke laughing on another roof. Looks like he’s having a right good time honestly. Yeha, that’s real laughter alright, not simulated for track nor video. Just look at him, doesn’t it just make you glad, just really glad, he’s having such a good chuckle. A right good, jolly good old unprovoked guffaw. It’s quite an interesting opening actually, I wonder what his story is? I hope he’s a central character in the SSC story (because I really don’t have a clue who’s who in the crew (boom) I don’t even know all the names of the residents in my own apartment building so of course I’m not going to have taken the time to learn the separate identities of the entire So Solid Crew apartment building (it’s a big tower-block, bigger than mine)). Yeah, just as I had hoped he seems quite an essential player and one that I hope will be developed emotionally throughout the music video, it would seem he’s getting quite a bit of camera time in this manic world.
But what’s this? It seems two child-voiced bald men are drawing quite a lot of attention to themselves, they’re expressing their shock at the fact that a man named Mega is driving around in a Lexus with an afro-comb in his hair… blinging! (Say what you want about old Pinky and Perky here but I think it’s rather impressive how with every word that crumpled-faced one says he moves up an octave). I have no reason to believe their surprise is well founded, I don’t know why Mega wouldn’t be driving around in a lexus with an afro-comb…blinging! I mean, the Lexus SC 430 is a reliable and enjoyable luxury tourer with a 4.3-liter V8 that produces 300 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. Come on, guys. Also, he has a rather hefty afro, why wouldn’t he purchase an afro-comb to maintain his proud mane? Also, Mega is an extremely successful rapper, it’s only natural for humans (especially of the rapping variety) to display their success and wealth with tokens affiliated with affluence, bling is one such token. He can afford it, it compliments his nape, it sustains an image of power and importance that he may not be able to pull off naked, it looks mint. Leave off, you two!
As we watch on we discover that the giggling roof-dweller is in fact the one they call Mega, which thickens the plot greatly, how can he be chuckling on the roof and blinging in the Lexus at the same time? A devious twin perhaps? A space/time-travelling version of a past or future self? If it’s neither of the above then it just raises some questions regarding continuity but let’s not get caught up in all that right now. The Mega stood before the megascreen (although, it’s unclear what product is being advertised upon it) seems to be able to hear what the baby men are chattin’. They’re clearly at some distant apart. Mmmm, this is curious. Curious indeed. The same Mega seems to ask us “why me?” (breaking the fourth wall, mental G bastard) he then faces the world, spreads his arms aloft and asks “why have you forsaken me?” (EDIT: Sorry, that was our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Mega’s exact quote was ‘what did I do to deserve this?’). He then declares he “needs to know”. Now I’m no audiologist (I’m a customer service assistant, sauce-station technician, and occasional blogger remember) but such phenomenal hearing abilities are usually the forte of superhuman heroes. Furthermore, the deploring of a gift/curse on a skyscraper rooftop is also usually the forte of a superhuman hero. This substantial evidence (two things) unequivocally proves Mega is a superhuman hero. I’m just glad he didn’t go for the banal ‘man’ at the end of his name, it’s really refreshing when a hero shakes of the shackles of cliché. Imagine if he was actually called Megaman, what a fucking fool he would be, what a completely stupid silly bastard he would appear to be, I’m so glad he’s just called Mega, so so glad. Yeah, this comment confirms it, he can hear us whispering. Not only that! He can even hear us speaking! He claims his soldiers can hear us too but I find that improbable, if they all possessed such abilities then why his he the only one with scaffolding privileges? Mega probably just faxes his soldiers bullet-points or spreadsheets with the key ideas of what’s just been said. Mmmm, so this uncanny ability means his earlier laughter wasn’t entirely unprovoked. I wonder who told the joke? Maybe it was in Mandarin? Mega goes on to say “Anyone who knows me knows I was born to do this”. This tells us two things: One: he’s quite flippant regarding his secret identity, perhaps he doesn’t even have one, and yet he continues to dwell within large social circles allowing people to ‘know’ him. This indicates he’s unconcerned with the safety and well-being of his loved ones and the people around him, no matter what danger may come with being associated to him, he cares not.. twat. Two: We’ve now learnt that this awesome power is inborn and was not the result of gamma radiation or years of tireless experimentation and hard work… twat. He seems very proud and jovial at this point regarding his condition. A moment ago he seemed to lament his mutant abilities. Maybe this great skill comes with a twist of bipolarity. Still, he claims, we fuck with him, after everything he’s done for us, all the bank jobs he’s foiled, all the earth shattering calamities he’s averted, still some knob kid in Stevenage whispers words like ‘willy’ and ‘debt’ for weeks on end with the sole intention of depriving Mega of sleep, lowering his mood and happiness levels, depriving him of appetite (both sexual and the food one). Someone even said they “want to blaze him”, although that’s probably not just some naive prankster, such serious threats may have come from actual (evil) world superpowers who desire damage and sadness to reign over Mega. Probably Putin… or Thanos… no, sounds more like Putin.
Finally, the roof Mega shuts up and allows the Lexus driving Mega to get a few words in. Although being the same person, it won’t really matter, unless one is indeed from the future and during the time between one Mega’s existence and the other’s, Mega read ‘The Master and Margarita’ by Mikhail Bulgakov. If that is the case, then I’d like to know what he thought of it. So the motorist Mega is cruising, naturally, which looks extremely perilous around those parts, most of the traffic being nothing but fleeting, blurred-lines of light. This would be the part of the article where I selected a few lines of lyrics, pick them to pieces, and just generally insult them and the intelligence and creativity of their writer, however, it seems Mega (possibly possessing unequalled tactical skills and astonishing foresight too) has found the greatest defence against my bitter critiques. I just can’t understand what he’s saying. I really don’t have a clue what he’s on about. It’s one of those moments when you hear someone and your brain goes all wobbly and you’re unsure if they’re even speaking English, then you question if you even know English yourself. Then you pass out. All in all, fair play to him…
Aha! Mega slipped up! He let his guard down and I got a word! ‘Baba’… so, let’s see if I can’t deliver my scathing slights against this single word he’s given me… Alright, ‘Baba’…. ‘Baba’…. What does ‘Baba’ stand for Mega? Does it stand for ‘Bountiful…… Ass…. bastard…… oh, fuck it.
The two Megas seem to be rappering in perfect harmony, this is the synergy I like to see between two of the same people from different time periods or realities. Ohhh, this is an interesting plot development! There appears to be a third Mega with a long coat! He appears to be in some kind of room embellished with a logo and a design that screams Marvel copyright reproach and Footlocker respectively. Perhaps this is a training facility he founded to train others of his kind to harness their mighty powers and use them for good, then afterwards, sell them shoes.
…Wow, who ever though something so fast-paced could be so boring. When I watch this video now and listen to the song I just sort of start to stare and enter into a kind of waking Garage coma. Do you get that?
Ohhh, god! Wake up! Look! There’s a boy playing on an island on a main road. Nothing good will come of that…
Oh, we’re back to the suicide case. Still hasn’t done anything. I know there’s no rush and it’s been only a minute and thirty three seconds since we last saw her but in the high speed life of the Crew that’s about a decade. The Salvation Army martial arts division, it seems, are on the case, and just in the nick of time! Five hundred more years and she may have actually gone through with it. She seems very resistant to the help of the concerned ninjas. In fact, she is violently defending herself against the concerned, she’s even using lasers! Another bipolar superhuman hero. Shame, She came up here to top herself and she ends up throwing three innocent men, who only wanted the best for her, off the fucking roof. What a dick. I hope she jumps now.
Fuck sake. Now there’s someone lead on the overhead road signs! And there’s a fellow standing amidst the traffic making little gun shapes with his outstretched hands. There seems to be very little emphasis on road safety in this music video. This is a city unhinged!
Ohhh, now there’s some ladies driving next to motor Mega now, they seem to be suggesting his woman-accompaniment ‘ride wid’ them instead, and Mega doesn’t even noticed a thing! and his lady seems to completely allow the furry lesbian-cruisers’ advances. Maybe her and Luxus Mega’s relationship is currently at a low point, maybe she’s sick of him being so unobservant, I would suggest she stick with it, he’s a good man generally and his hearts in the right place, but love and desire will appear in some unusual and sudden forms. So she has to just follow her heart. She indicates she’s interested with a fleeting glance and a sly head nod. Ohh the intrigue, This story truly has it all; superpowers, sex, betrayal, kung-fu, Lexi (Plural). let’s see how this develops. Maybe Mega’s woman is in cahoots with the homosexual motorway bandits, maybe they, in turn, are in cahoots with Putin, perhaps Putin is also in cahoots with Thanos. Who knows who Thanos is in cahoots with currently. It doesn’t really matter, I’ve filled my ‘cahoots’ quota for the article. Let’s move on.
Next, were introduced to a new character. He appears to be a very enigmatic young man sporting a hideous red ensemble. Don’t get your hopes up for any profound diologue from him, though, I think he’s a bit dim. He’s just sort of standing on the motorway. Another So Solid suicide attempt? Maybe he’s in one of those Garage comas? Either way he’s a victim of the Crew’s total lack of understanding of the highway code and it’s total lack of regard for road safety guidelines… oh, he’s atomised by that gorgeous and responsive Lexus SC 430 only to reconstruct himself just in time to flip them off before he vanishes out of the sight of the rear-view mirror. Great, he can just put himself back together! Happily being decimated here and there crossing the mainroad to Aldi without a care in the world. Just the shining example of pedestrian precaution the impressionable So Solid fans need.
The following ten seconds are just a total mess of images, every image that has previously been seen is now fighting for screen time, this may be the climax of the video regardless of how devoid of continuity or sense it is. We’re up to the three minute mark now. Nothing noteworthy about that you may think, but remember this is the SSC universe, Battersea works on a different time scale as the rest of the world, ‘Ride Wid Us’ is the garage equivalent of ‘War and Peace’. There’s a white suited bloke’s legs in shot for a second, a harbinger of a coming finale. Moments after you see that gangster gait the lady in the murder/suicide subplot blows some kind of electricity off her hand and eradicates the last concerned ninja. She has over come her difficulties. Survived at the cost of many other lives. She has persevered the life she moments ago was hoping to dash against the luminescent pavement. This tragic climax harkens back to the tale of ‘The Dog in the Manger’. So..errrm… copy and paste that moral here.
It is now revealed that the white legs belong to the Lexus driving Mega. He has left that sleek and energy efficient roadster to wander about abit on the road but in doing so he has put his safety in jeopardy. No sooner had he left his safe, comfortable automobile than he found himself in a spot of bother. It seems Mega is now been surrounded, fondled, and seduced by a collection of diseased-skin bitches. Failed experiments perhaps? Martian manhunters maybe? Is this the untimely end of Mega?! Unfortunately, we are never to find out. We are treated to a big, gratuitous explosion and the whole video shifts. A brave statement on the fickle tastes and desires of the modern consumer and the capriciousness of our short-attention spanned youth or a stab at the news media omitting vital facts to sway a zombified nation? Who can say….
In the last section of this epic, as I mentioned before, there is a complete shift. We are brough to what can only be described as a mental spaz party. There are a few flash backs of Mega’s final battle with the beautifully bilious, bubonic babes but the mood has changed, the sound has reverted back to that of a primeval romp, faces are grotesque and the dance moves are ridiculously shit. Where are we now? Suddenly, who is in shot, none other than the infamous bald, red, dissolving div. He seems to be prowling the crowd, lingering out of the spotlight, overseeing this mess. Maybe he’s the curator of this shindig or perhaps, more likely… this is all in his head. We are invited to see and experience what is going down in this strange fellow’s mind when he crosses the road and doesn’t look left then right then left again. This is your brain on SSC. Here we find, amidst the chaos and douchebaggery, order, safety, hope. A place, at first glance, that just seems all wrong and full of idiots, a place inside the head of a moron who need’s the eternal power of immortality just to get a packet of custard creams, is actually a utopia. The black suicidal Chun Li is there, safe and happy for once, who is she to the red bloke? A forlorn lover? A relative and protégé, the embodiment of hope and purity, gunned down and robbed of youth? Mega is here, an idol perhaps? A mentor?
What is she saying? What does she keep repeating? It’s almost hypnotic, it just sort of slips under the concious ear and buries itself deep within your mind…. something about a ‘tea pool’… ahhh the trappings of wealth….
After this part everyone just sort of shuts up and continues their freakish movements for half a minute and then… that’s just sort of it… a Loony Tunes sort of loop quickly envelopes the screen then…darkness…The End.
Now, I’m sure you’re all expecting a concluding paragraph here, the meaning of this piece and by definition, of life, a summery of the work, an insight, an astute keyboard palm smash, anything… but… I just can’t… were you even watching the video… what do you expect me to write after that, how do you expect me to concentrate on anything any more. You’re lucky I even got this far, you’re lucky I’m even still sentient, please bare in mind I’ve been watching this video on repeat during the writing of the entirety of the article… you don’t get a final word… I just can’t…