All Saints: Post Spice Hip-Hop

THERE ARE certain things in life you can be sure of. Rain on Bank Holidays, never having enough money, Alan Shearer getting injured when it really counts. In the world of pop music though, a cert is about as reliable as the No 26 bus. Until now. Yup, sure as eggs is eggs, All Saints are going to be massive if their hip hop-lite debut single, ‘I Know Where It’s At’, has anything to do with it.

Made up of songwriting duo Shaznay and Mel and sisters Nat and Nick, All Saints make the cutest pop music the Top 40 will have seen in some considerable time. And to boot, they also happen to be absolutely falling down gorgeous. All the right ingredients to be dropped safely into the Smash Hits box and have done with it then? Well, no actually. As Shaznay rattles off a handful of artists she’s currently listening to, we can only nod, knowledgeable, while our finely-tuned musical minds scream “Who?”.

“I’m curious as to how people are going to accept us,” she shrugs. “We have so many influences. We’re not really hip hop and we’re not really R&B…We’re just All Saints. You can’t really pigeonhole us.”

And that goes double for Shaznay’s home-brew rapping style.

“It’s, erm… it just comes out like that. A lot of people say I sound like Bart Simpson. I’ve been watching The Simpsons recently and I can understand what they are saying.”

Rather predictably, with expectations working overtime in the wake of the current zig-a-zig Zeitgeist-ah,the storm clouds of the “new Spice Girls” tag is already hovering.

“People have been waiting and expecting another girl group to come out and that’s probably why we’re getting the hype,” offers Shaznay. But the first brush has already been tarred, hasn’t it Mel?

“Oh God… I did this big interview over the phone the other week. I talked about the single, the album, where we’re coming from, the music, everything. It was all very serious. Then I was asked what the difference is between us and the Spice Girls so I said my piece about how I think what they do is cool… then right at the end, and I wish, God damn it, I wish I’d never said it… but I said as a joke that we were better looking and we’ve got more upstairs. So what’s the first thing I see when the piece was published? ‘All Saints. We’re much better looking than the Spice Girls and we’ve got more on top’ in big capital letters. God I felt like such a shit.”

New Spice or not, when these Saints go marching in, you’re going to know about it.

© Neil MasonMelody Maker, 23 August 1997

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