There is a melancholy fatalism in some of the lyrics of Blazin’ Squad’s biggest hit, Crossroads, as Melo-D raps, ‘The way it is now is the way it’s gonna stay. There’s no choice left but to hope and pray’. Young Melo-D, real name Chris McKeckney, was described in 2002, by CBBC Newsround, as ‘the most talkative’ of the group, and I would like to venture that with that resigned attitude he was perhaps the most destructive influence on the career of the ten-piece rap crew that emerged out of the hardened streets of Higham Park in the early Noughties.
Even though those lyrics were penned more than a decade ago, I feared the complete lack of optimism and the absence of a belief in the mastery of one’s destiny may still be lingering in the minds of the Blazin Squad boys. So, I took it upon myself to make them believe there was hope yet and that Blazin Squad could burn hot once more. Perhaps not hot like an iron, but definitely like a strong radiator that you really shouldn’t lean against for too long. Thus began an episode of Celebriteasing that ran away from me.
I was familiar with some of the members of Blazin Squad growing up. Krazy (real name Lee Bailey who was given the moniker Krazy for antics that were so wild that ‘Crazy’ just didn’t cut it) and Strider (Mustafa Omer) were both keen runners and I would occasionally see them at training in Mile End and Victoria Park. Strider got his name as a result of a renowned burst of speed in the 400m, although back then we called him ‘Rikki Lake’, ‘Silly Sauce’, and my personal favourite ‘Fatter-Turk’, which was a play on ‘Atatürk’ the first President of Turkey. Strider always swore he wasn’t even Turkish, but we were never ones to let geography get in the way of good banter.
Krazy was actually a good middle-distance runner and I remember one hilarious incident that sums up his youthful exuberance and nutritional ignorance. We were up at Parliament Hill for a meet and I was geeing up some of the younger runners and noticed Lee drinking a strange looking concoction out of a soup container. I found out it was a pre-race mix drink he was trying out that was made up of Lucozade NRG, Red Bull, Gatorade, Nourishment and Dioralyte. The curdled mix left him in a right mess, and after the sugar crash we found he had vomited in his kit bag and was in no fit state to run. Talented kid though.
So when the Blazin Squad really emerged I was amused and pleased. It was good to see these guys having fun and what not. Their prancing and posing didn’t fool me though, and when it was suggested ‘that they were to So Solid Crew what S Club Juniors were to their senior counterparts, S Club’, I was in humored agreement. But, in their relatively short time in the limelight they amassed six top-ten hits so all credit was due to them.
It was back in August this year, while I was doing a bit of training at home, that I searched ‘psych up music’ on Youtube and got a bit of a shock. Alongside Eminem, Jorge Quintero and Fort Minor this particular compilation had ‘Here For One’ by Blazin Squad on it. This 2004 single had passed me by first time around, and indeed it was their last release before they first split. With the opening verse containing the lyrics ‘Cos we hip this hop this, y’all can’t stop this’, delivered with a totally unnecessary American twang, it is no wonder the crew fell apart soon after.
I sent my first email to their management agency almost straight away:
Hope this email finds you well. I’m enquiring about the availability of Blazin’ Squad for a project I have lined up. My small team and I are involved in video production, working primarily on educational or corporate training material. We have just been contacted by the NUS and Universities UK about producing a video that will be shown at universities throughout the country during Fresher’s Fairs. Whoever they hired previously has dropped the project and we have been asked to step in at the last moment and deliver something by the middle of September, which is why I’m getting in touch.
The video is to be an informative piece about fire safety in university halls. We want Blazin’ Squad to front this. I think the recent Big Reunion show has thrust bands/acts from the early/mid 2000s back in the spotlight, thus making the boys ideal for us to maximise the impact of this initiative. The target audience (18-20 year olds, generally) will remember the Squad and we’re planning on maximising this nostalgia effect. I have some great concept guys who have been working on ideas, but of course we’re open to collaborating with the boys about how we deliver the necessary information.
I would be very grateful if you could let me know if they are available soon so we can move this forward asap if possible.
I got a one line response back, but this one was different to the other one liners of rejection I had received in the past. This one smacked of the palpable desperation of an agent who has ‘celebs’ on his books that never throw up any work and who he doesn’t have the heart to get rid of. This line I could work with:
Hi, it sounds interesting, but the band are not fully reformed?
Oh my friend, trouble yourself not with such such trifling matters, I will take whoever you have. Whether that would mean another chance to wind up Fatter-Turk or not meant little to me. I was soon going to have some fun with the Blazin Squad.