UK garage, the freshest British dance music for a decade, is in the throes of an improbable revolt. In the red corner are the self-styled "old guard" of original UK garage DJs, now mostly in their 30s. They refuse to play the slew of energetic records that has insolently replaced UK garage's traditional soul elements with novelty noises that were once more at home in a hardcore rave. In the blue corner are the gung-ho, often teenage producers behind this new style, who are outraged that their records have been dismissed.
"We're taking over," says the 18-year-old producer Alex Rivers, one half of the garage duo Oxide and Neutrino. "It's a generation thing." "There's this new kids/ old boys thing going on," says Spoony, 30, of Radio 1's specialist garage trio, the Dreem Teem. Last Sunday morning, on the Dreem Teem's Radio 1 show, the issue hit the airwaves. Spoony was interviewing Lisa Maffia, Romeo and Mega Man from the south London posse, So Solid Crew. "Any tip for ageing rockers like ourselves?" Spoony asked them sarcastically. "How can we stay out there?"
"Give the youth of nowadays a chance to bust through that barrier - 'cause you lot have been there for so long and it's our time now," retorted Romeo. "Are you saying we must step over?" "A little sidestep," Romeo suggested. Mega Man added: "Look for new talent that can carry your name when you lot are too tired to DJ." Despite the Dreem Teem's jocular insistence of support - they're currently giving airtime to two Oxide and Neutrino productions - the tension was all too audible.