21 Seconds

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"21 Seconds"
Single by So Solid Crew
from the album They Don't Know
Released6 August 2001 (2001-08-06)
Genre2-step garage
  • 5:03 (album version)
  • 3:54 (radio edit)
So Solid Crew singles chronology
"Oh No (Sentimental Things)"
"21 Seconds"
"They Don't Know"
Music video
"21 Seconds" on YouTube

"21 Seconds" is a song by UK garage crew So Solid Crew. It was released as the second single from the debut album They Don't Know, and was the first of five consecutive top-20 hit singles for the group. It topped the UK Singles Chart in August 2001 and peaked just outside the top 40 in the Netherlands. It achieved first week sales of 118,135 units in the United Kingdom.[2]

In September 2019, NME included the song in their "25 essential UK garage anthems" list.[3]

Composition and production[edit]

The song uses fairly stripped back production, utilising a 2-step rhythm which was common in UK garage at the time. Lisa Maffia's young daughter, Chelsea, can be heard at the beginning of the track.[4]

The song title alludes to the approximate 21 seconds that each of the band members is given to perform their rap. 21 seconds is arrived at as the song's tempo is approximately 140BPM and each rapper has 12 bars of 4 beats (48 beats at 140BPM, when worked out to the nearest integer, rounds to 21 seconds).[4] Megaman said the crew created the track after their label told them to make a track lasting three and a half minutes. He said "so we worked out that with at least 10 or 11 members, that's eight bars each – 21 seconds. It was a simple calculation."[5] Their label manager Shabs Jobanputra said "they literally took a calculator and divided the time by the number of MCs."[6]

Music video[edit]

The music video received the award for British Video of the Year at the 2002 Brit Awards.[7]

Commercial performance[edit]

"21 seconds" was the first UK garage track to achieve a number one on the UK Official Chart. The track sold 118,135 copies in its opening week and was the year's 19th best-seller. Its total sales reached 423,000.

Critical reception[edit]

In a 2002 review, Pete Paphides in The Guardian said the track was "a brilliant idea" but that "not a single member of the collective uses their time to say anything remotely insightful."[8]

In a 2020 retrospective review of the single, The Quietus said the track "managed to capture the excitement of clubs and pirate radio, with MCs frantically passing the mic as they try to outdo each other in lyrical prowess, creative aggression bubbling beneath the surface."[9]

Track listings[edit]



Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[24] Platinum 600,000double-dagger

double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format(s) Label(s) Ref.
United Kingdom 6 August 2001 (2001-08-06)
  • 12-inch vinyl
  • CD
  • cassette
Relentless [25]
Australia 22 October 2001 (2001-10-22) CD [26]

Other versions[edit]

Romeo reworked "21 Seconds" for car insurance firm Confused.com in 2013.[27] The same year, Preditah reworked the track.[28]

On 6 September 2019 So Solid Crew went to the Red Bull Music Studios, London, and remixed "21 Seconds" with Toddla T.[29] They were joined by D Double E, Ms Banks and DJ Q as they added new verses.

In 2019, DJ Spoony together with Katie Chatburn and the Ignition Orchestra featuring So Solid Crew recorded an orchestral version of the song for the UK garage covers album Garage Classical.

Manchester rapper Aitch covered the track in 2020.


  1. ^ a b "Dutchcharts.nl – So Solid Crew feat. Megaman, Asher-D, Mac, Kaish, G-Man, Lisa Maffia, Face, Scat-D, Harvey, Romeo – 21 Seconds" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  2. ^ "All the Number 1s". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 9 August 2009.
  3. ^ "The best UK garage tracks of all time". 16 September 2019.
  4. ^ a b Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (17 October 2017). "So Solid Crew: how we made 21 Seconds". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  5. ^ https://www.nme.com/features/does-rock-n-roll-kill-braincells-megaman-so-solid-crew-2651154
  6. ^ https://daily.redbullmusicacademy.com/2019/09/so-solid-crew-they-dont-know-tribute
  7. ^ Jackson, Jamie (24 April 2005). "Ready to blow". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  8. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/music/2002/oct/05/artsfeatures.popandrock
  9. ^ https://thequietus.com/articles/28201-so-solid-crew-they-dont-know-21-seconds-anniversary-review
  10. ^ 21 Seconds (UK CD single liner notes). So Solid Crew. Relentless Records. 2001. 6718961000.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  11. ^ 21 Seconds (European CD single liner notes). So Solid Crew. Relentless Records. 2001. 671896 1.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  12. ^ 21 Seconds (UK enhanced CD single liner notes). So Solid Crew. Relentless Records. 2001. RELENT16CD.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  13. ^ 21 Seconds (UK cassette single sleeve). So Solid Crew. Relentless Records. 2001. RELENT16MC.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  14. ^ 21 Seconds (UK 12-inch single sleeve). So Solid Crew. Relentless Records. 2001. RELENT16T.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  15. ^ 21 Seconds (European enhanced CD single liner notes). So Solid Crew. Relentless Records. 2001. ISM 672580 2.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  16. ^ "Issue 609" ARIA Top 100 Singles. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  17. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 19 no. 35. 25 August 2001. p. 10. Retrieved 23 August 2020.
  18. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – 21 Seconds". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  19. ^ "Top 10 Dance Singles, Week Ending 23 August 2001". GfK Chart-Track. Retrieved 2 June 2019.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  21. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  22. ^ "Official Dance Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company.
  23. ^ "The Official UK Singles Chart 2001" (PDF). UKChartsPlus. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  24. ^ "British single certifications – So Solid Crew – 21 Seconds". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  25. ^ Hubner, Miriam (25 August 2001). "Airborne" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 19 no. 35. p. 13. Retrieved 29 September 2020.
  26. ^ "The ARIA Report: New Releases Singles – Week Commencing 22nd October 2001" (PDF). ARIA. 22 October 2001. p. 24. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 February 2008. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  27. ^ https://www.factmag.com/2013/09/23/so-solid-crews-romeo-re-records-21-seconds-for-car-insurance-advert-watch-here/
  28. ^ https://www.factmag.com/2013/03/25/hear-preditahs-cover-of-so-solid-crews-21-seconds/
  29. ^ live with Toddla T as part of Studios Live