If there's one member of the So Solid Crew that has broken through all the tabloid hounding it's Romeo. Still coming from a street level he's chosen to channel his experiences into something positive and at the end of the day after all he's been through who could blame him when he sits back, chills out and announces "It's All Gravy". We caught up with the guy chosen to represent the UK on the Murder Inc tour featuring Ja Rule and Ashanti, the guy the Beckham's named their second kid after and the guy on Gareth Gates most wanted list - it could only be the one and only Romeo!!!
Q: The best part of the past few months has been spent on the road. Feel The Noise throughout July and more recently the whole Smash Hits Tour. As someone who hasn't been through the traditional pop and stage school background, how was it for you?
A: You know what? I've never slagged off pop acts. What it is the type of music I'm portraying right now obviously has crossover potential. I wouldn't class it as genuine pop, but it has got crossover potential if you see what I'm saying. A lot of people out there obviously wasn't born with gold spoons in their mouth and I'm trying to get this message across that this can be accomplished. If you wanna be a policeman, a lawyer, a doctor, producer, a singer then if you put your heart and soul into it, it can be accomplished and I'm a perfect example for that!!!
Obviously i've been working hard trying to promote the singles and let people know me as an individual. It's very overwhelming to see how much support there is for me as an individual. It's definitely heart touching to see the crowd reactions and the screaming girls and all the rest of it. I did know obviously that something big was going to happen during my life and I reckon this is it, but it's gonna be bigger if you see what I'm saying. I can see the bigger picture and it's definitely going to be bigger.
Q: For you with your passion for music, it must have been Ja Rule is where it's at. It must have been a dream come true for you. Was it everything you expected it to be?
A: Ja Rule is a cool guy and the good thing about the whole tour was that he treated me like I was one of them. Like a big crew going out and doing god knows how many performances and we had the after party sessions, load of fun, loads of jokes and all the rest of it.
And can you really class Ja Rule a pop act? No, exactly. So therefore you can't really class me as a pop act neither. But at the same time it has got crossover potential.
Q: With the Ja Rule tour it was literally the whole of Europe which felt the Romeo live experience. How was it flying the flag for the UK Urban scene?
A: I felt confident and the reason why is that i'd done the whole UK Tour with Ja Rule and Ashanti. It went well because there's a lot of support for me out there in the UK, but you go to places like Germany, Amsterdam and Belgium where they hadn't heard my material before and I still got the same responses as I did over in the UK. So I was flying the flag and I was definitely flying it well.
Q: As someone who has seen the huge productions of someone like Ja Rule first hand and then been a major player in the UK scene. What do you think are the major differences between the two Urban scenes?
A: There's a big main difference...and that's 50 States!!! There's 50 States in America and obviously the UK's a lot smaller, but at the same time what we need to do over in the UK is keep the music and the material consistent and that's what the US tends to.
The thing is I don't think the UK should have a go at the US and say "you should come and look to us". I think we should represent our own first and represent where we was born and bred. If you have a chance to make it in the US then take it, but don't go in all there guns firing. A lot of artists go out to the US and get lost, obviously I'm not going to be one of them. I'm just going to try and accomplish what I can accomplish in the UK and that's the main goal!!!
But the record labels still need to look down to what's happening in the streets and clock fresh talent. That's obviously happening now a bit more because So Solid came about and thankfully it changing for the better right now.
Q: You've had the two singles "Romeo Dunn" and then "It's All Gravy" and the album "Solid Love" out this week. Big departure from what we've heard before. Is this where you're at right now?
A: Obviously music and my mentality's evolving. As you get older you see the light and venture different paths at the same time. With the So Solid sound it's definitely evolved and if you listen to the next album it's still on that hard street level, but at the same time it's got crossover potential and it's still street at the same time.
I wouldn't say that writing the album was pressurizing because I'm a good songwriter, but it was definitely a chance to express myself as an individual. It freed my mind and I got to release stuff that was in my brain and let people know me as an individual. It was great opportunity to represent on my own album.
Q: When it came to the album it must have been a case of looking through dozens of notebooks. You started writing really early didn't you?
A: I've been writing since god knows how long. I've got a cabinet of paperwork and obviously song material. A lot of stuff isn't ready to come out right now because the market isn't ready for it. There's literally albums worth of material written down and it's just choosing the right time to bring them out.
I've recorded about 3 albums worth of material and I just pick and chose which ones are appropriate for this time. What I do is to do is experiment with music and put my contributions towards garage music, R&B music, Soul music and ragga influences as well and hopefully it will pay off with the dollar!!!
Q: The first So Solid album was really lyrically paranoid and your solo songs seem a lot more at ease with themselves. Was it a real concerted effort to break away from So Solid's lyrical themes?
A: I wouldn't say lyrically paranoid. Were just talking about real life situations and giving a bigger insight to people that don't know and at the same time letting the people that do know relate to it. With the material I'm bringing out now, I have no problems or no stresses right now and it's letting people know me as a person so to speak.
When I went to Norway to make the title track "Solid Love" and when I was putting pen to I thought you've got a choice: you can talk about all the negative things or you can talk about the positive things. I chose to just send some message to my family through the music and have a positive message at the same time. It's the track which gels the So Solid thing and the Romeo thing as one!!!
Q: It was the title track "Solid Love" alongside "It's All Gravy" and "Just Wait" that you worked on with pop production team Stargate. How was it working outside the immediate So Solid family with probably the least likely choices?
A: It was an eye opener for me like musically as well. When I went over there I just thought open my mind innit, but get them down to my level as well because they've made a lot of songs for a lot of pop acts that are out there now. I thought let's bring them down a notch to me and let them meet me halfway. The combination definitely works and we came up we 3 hits, 3 massive tunes!!!
Q: Neutrino was saying a few months ago that with all the solo projects it's hard finding the time where you can get together at one time. What's happening at the moment?
A: So Solid's concentrating on different elements at the moment. Lisa Mafia is doing here solo album, Harvey doing his solo material and Asher D doing his solo stuff now. And obviously other members have been travelling to Ibiza, Agia Napa, Cannes and doing MC bookings out there so we've definitely been on the road a lot this year. It's not just the UK anymore and we've been concentrating on other areas and breaking down different boundaries.
When it comes to next year when the next So Solid album comes out - that's when you see us all back together as a whole. But our game plan is to let people know us as individuals and then come back for the solo album. Every time we break off for the solo material we'll always come back for another So Solid album.
Q: The second So Solid album features some of the newer So Solid members. Would you like to tell us who we can expect on it?
A: What were trying to do is express that there's a lot more to So Solid than people think. There's a lot of new artists in So Solid and there's a lot of artists whose faces haven't been put to the forefront. It's mixing those people with artists like myself that have their solo material out as well.
Q: So what's the ultimate dream for you as a solo artist?
A: If I get the opportunity to do a solo tour then I'm definitely going to take it. It's in the pipeline and I'm gonna go for all angles possible. DJ's, live bands and experiment at the same and with the supporters out there it will definitely work. But first of all the albums out on monday and that the main priority at the moment - it's gonna open a lot of doors!!!
Q: Finally. We already know the likely answer but it has to be asked all the same - Romeo & Gareth Gates - is it going to happen?
A: That is not happening!!! I don't know how that story got out. Apparently he wants to do a tune with me, but it's not my cup of tea. Gareth Gates - i've got respect for him. He's a ladies man, he knows how to pull the ladies, he's got the ladies under his finger. But at the end of the day I'm not doing a tune with. Not now. Not tomorrow. Not ever!!!
The album "Solid Love" is out now on Relentless Records
The So Solid Crew DVD is also in shops now
For more info
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