This UK-based hip-hop crew featured the vocal skills of Melodee and Ola the Soul Controla. While Melodee was London-born and bred, Ola came from Nigeria via Baltimore and Brooklyn. This influenced the band’s international flavour, and their acknowledged influences include Fela Kuti And His African Beats, alongside Eric B And Rakim. The crew were one of the few bands to endure into the 90s from the early 80s’ old-school hip-hop movement that emerged in Ladbroke Grove, London. NSO Force have been articulating their reality lyrics since 1984 and built a solid reputation at clubs and venues across London. In 1989, the NSO Force released their debut, ‘Give It Up’, for Vinyl Solution, which proved especially popular in dance venues. They followed the release through the Whole World Recording group in 1990, echoing Peter Tosh with ‘400 Years’. The song succeeded in gaining the band a hardcore following, while they were concurrently admired as prominent performers on the underground scene. In 1993 the band crossed over to the mainstream with their third release, ‘Chains’/‘In Too Deep’. The song featured on mainstream radio and held the number 1 position on the hip-hop chart for three weeks. The group followed the hit in 1995 with their fourth release, ‘The Capital (Land Of The Lost)’, a heavier track that led to their eventual signing with China Records.
The NSO Force were not overtly militant, although they maintained that they could not be bought, divided or ruled - hence the band’s initials, inspired by the Malcolm X stance: No Sell Out. In 1998 the band was asked to perform on Supercharger’s ‘Tick Like A Bomb’, which featured the classic line, ‘Like a time bomb tickin’ -Yo - the plot thickens - A tale of two cities - but it ain’t Charles Dickens’. The NSO Force also shared a French-only release with the Cash Crew, contributing a reference to their west London roots, ‘Notting Ill’. Their association with China led to the release of ‘Money’, a self-production that introduced the vocals of an up-and-coming Malaysian soul vocalist, Blue, who performed a variation on ‘Love Come Down’, while the NSO Force demonstrated their hip-hop skills to full effect.