|Watch SAS' video 'Bad Boys'|
If you asked me about UK rap music around this time last year, I probably would have laughed at you and said there’s nothing to talk about. However, we all know now how much the UK urban scene has evolved in the last 12 months, and a duo that has contributed in making this possible is North London’s finest, SAS a.k.a. Streets All Salute, (“That’s because they all salute us,” laughs Mega). With their unique flow of vocals, both brothers Mayhem and Mega are signed to Dipset/Roc-A-Fella Records, and if that’s not enough, they’ve got much love and support from the east side of the USA and from their hometown of London. So, I guess it’s fair to say that SAS are ready to leave a mark in UK rap history.
The new promotional single ‘Bad Boys’ featuring Haze is unfortunately not due for a release, but is currently one of the most requested videos on Channel U and on heavy rotation on all pirate radio stations. With the original ‘Bad Boys’ bashment beat on the track, it’s hardly surprising that it’s so popular. The track can be found on Haze’s mixtape entitled, ‘Once Upon A Time In London’.
The Situation caught up with the boys who “took four months off so the game could catch up” to find out how they got into the D.I.P. and what their future plans are to help make UK rap a success.
Born and raised in East Finchley, North London, Mayhem and Mega started rapping at the young age of five. “We were always into hip hop and break dancing,” explains older brother Mayhem. “It was pretty much a lifestyle for us.” Heavily influenced by West Coast rap, in particular Tupac, other artists on Deathrow Records, and Notorious B.I.G., SAS were followers of hardcore rap from the beginning.
SAS are also a part of a larger group called Eurogang. They came out with the ‘Eurogang Anthem’ in early 2003 which did not chart, but was on many pirate radio playlists. The video was listed on Channel U and was a promoter for the group, helping them gain recognition. They worked on their first mixtape called, ‘The Example’ as a group around about the same time and released it under white label Scream Records. “Eurogang is the outfit, that’s our crew” Mega tells us. “It consists of SAS, Haze, Blak, Bronz, Totz and Sav.” He then adds, “The group came together in late 2002 and right now everyone’s doing separate projects, but we will all come back and do another project eventually, when everyone’s got their own identity.” As well as playing basketball with Haze, they also used to rap with him, so they joined together with other school friends to form the Eurogang crew.
Apart from being the founders of Eurogang, SAS are also a part of Dipset, which consists of US rappers Cam’ron, Juelz Santana, Jim Jones and Freaky Zeekey. The deal came about when SAS lived out in New York in 1998. While they were out there, things started to heat up for them as they began to take rapping more seriously. The pair started to attend underground rap battles in Marcy (hometown to Jay-Z). Battling and living out in New York gave the boys the buzz they needed. They gained respect on the streets through these battles: “Our name was buzzing around before we got signed and we were getting radio air already,” tells Mayhem. At one of these events, they were noticed by Roc-A-Fella artist Memphis Bleek, who felt what they were doing and was interested in meeting the duo. Luckily for them, shortly after that they bumped into platinum-selling producer Kanye West at a recording studio. “We always seemed to bump into artists from Roc-A-Fella,” said Mayhem. Kanye was keen on signing the duo but due to lack of funds he introduced them to Cam’ron. “We met Cam through Kanye. He liked what we were doing so we linked with the whole Dipset and became Diplomats from then. About nine months later, we spoke to Jimmy Jones and Cam’ron through a three-way call to Damon Dash. It was pretty much in the bag, because he respected our music without hearing it and he knew Cam’ron would only co-sign artists that were hot and street,” explains Mega.
After signing to Dipset/Roc-A-Fella, rumours began circulating that the co-owner Damon Dash had only signed them to gain recognition in the UK. “I think it’s a compliment,” said Mega. “Most of the time, people don’t really care about artists from the UK, so if they’re saying that’s why he did it, then that’s a good look for SAS.”
Since Universal’s recent takeover of Roc-A-Fella Records, Jay-Z, Damon Dash, Cam’ron and Kanye West have all gone their separate ways, so for SAS to stick with Cam’ron was a wise decision. Now that Dash and Jay-Z are no longer doing business, it means SAS are rolling with the Diplomats. “It means we’re strictly Diplomats now; we’re not with Jay-Z or Dame; were not Roc-A-Fella anymore,” explains Mayhem.
Now that the UK scene is finally getting the recognition it deserves, which artists do the boys rate, and who would they like to collaborate with, if given they were given the choice? “There’s a few,” says Mayhem. “Sway, Sincere, Biggs, Baby Blue…” Mega adds, “We would love to work with Slick Rick.”
Although they are getting their recognition, everyone seems to be in some sort of beef. The boys feel that this seems to create tension: “Everyone’s pissed off because no one’s getting money, and everyone’s pointing the finger at each other when really they should be pointing at the person serving the dishes, not the person holding the dish,” says Mega. “It’s like crabs in a bucket; they’re all trying to pull each other down. If everyone stands together and stops trying to separate people into other genres, it’s not really going to move forward.” On this, Mayhem adds, “We’re not just artists in the UK, we’re selling mixtapes out in America as we speak.” SAS are living proof that UK artists can be successful in the USA.
The boys are also mentioned on former So Solid Crew member Face’s new “diss” single. He raps, “SAS got signed to the ROC but if the ROC heard me, SAS would get dropped…” Mega replied to this, saying: “If he didn’t mention us, something would be wrong.” Mayhem continued, “He disses all the people he thinks are top boys, like Dizzie Rascal and Asher D. I mean, Dizzee is on his second album, Asher D is in 50 Cent’s new movie, and SAS are on Billboards in USA and we’re in ‘State Property 2’ the film.” “He even dissed his own group member Asher D; it just shows what level of thinking he’s on, and we’re all doing a lot bigger things than he’s doing,” adds Mega. “And he comes back with a name like Black Piranha… Come on man, he should just go swim in a pool somewhere!”
With fame always comes negativity. There will always be those who try to put others down. As if they don’t get enough that, SAS have been accused of rapping in fake American accents. Mayhem answered, “Listen to the CD, I mean we lived in America so we were heavily influenced. But, now every time I rap I speak in our English accent. We use rap terminology and people think that’s trying to be American, it’s not; it’s rap terminology words like whips. But now you’ll find American rappers using our slang. They hear us speak and they put that in their rhymes, so if you hear our slang in their raps it’s because of us,” explains Mayhem.
SAS are the boys who are bringing us rap that’s relevant “to just how London feels”. Their flow is unlike anything ever heard before, and even if someone tried, they would be hard pressed to get the same reaction as SAS do, or better. “Before, when we were in America, in the battles people thought we were rappers like The Streets, so they didn’t have that much respect for us. But, when they heard us, we got all the ooooh’s and aaaaah’s that the other rappers were getting,” boasted Mega.
The boys have had a few promotional videos and records out in the UK already, including the melodic ‘Doing Fine’ and they feature on some upcoming releases with Nicole Wray, Teedra Moses and MC Biggz, that you should be looking out for.
In the future, the SAS boys said, “You can expect WORLD DOMINATION!” Their new mixtape, ‘Who Dares Win’, is out now, and features artists who were formerly Roc-A-Fella’s finest, such as Jay-Z, Hell Rell, JR Writer and Juelz Santana to name a few.
SAS are destined for big things, and you can rest assured that The Situation will be right behind them.