Blazin' Squad

Self-proclaimed pioneers of "chav" culture, ten-piece pop/rap act Blazin' Squad scored an impressive six consecutive Top Ten hits in just two years. Members Flava, Plat'num, Strider, Freek, Krazy, Tommy-B, Melo-D, Spike-E, Reepa, and Kenzie all met at Higham Park School in Chingford, London where they bonded over a love of hip-hop. After recording a demo, "Standard Flow," at a nearby studio for just £200, the group released it to various pirate radio stations under their own label, Weighty Plates. Attracting the attention of EastWest Records, they were promptly signed and in 2002, just weeks after completing their GCSEs, they released their debut single, "Crossroads." A reworking of the 1996 Bone Thugs-N-Harmony classic, it became an instant hit with the Smash Hits' audience, a staple of music video channels' play lists, and reached number one in its first week. Despite its success, the group's image and hip-hop-lite sound were a constant source of derision for the media, and in reference to S Club 7's spinoff group, they were labeled the "So Solid Crew Juniors." This unflattering tag didn't deter their increasing fanbase, with follow-up "Love on the Line" reaching number six and debut album In the Beginning achieving gold status despite a lowly number 33 position. Third single, the double A-side "When the Story Ends"/"Reminisce" became their third Top Ten hit, (number eight) and after a sell-out 21-date tour, the group started work on new material. In 2003, lead single "We Just Be Dreamin" reached number three and after "Flip Reverse," arguably their most well-received single, charted one place higher, second album Now or Never was released. Like their previous effort, it couldn't repeat the success of its singles, scraping in at number 37 and after "All 4 One," (number five) failed to reignite interest in the project, all remained quiet on the Blazin' Squad front for the remainder of 2004. In 2005, their most prominent member, Kenzie, appeared on the newly revived Channel 4 reality show Celebrity Big Brother, where he became the surprise success, finishing runner-up to Happy Mondays' dancer Bez. But shortly after the show finished, the group split and by the end of the year, Kenzie, along with James Murray (Flava) and Mus Omer, (Strider) had formed Friday Hill. In October 2006, Blazin' Squad returned with just four of their original members, but their comeback single, "All Night Long," missed the Top 40 and the group were dropped. Several members are rumored to be working on solo careers and whispers of a reunion tour have surfaced on their MySpace page. ~ Jon O'Brien

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