The Chain Gang Get Lucky with Big Brother; Sales of Goldie Lookin' Chain's Album Have Rocketed since Member Maggot Entered the BB House. Is It Time to Take the Novelty Band Seriously?

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WHILE Wales's latest hip- hop export , Maggot, has been busy squaring up to George Galloway and cosying up to Baywatch beauty Traci Bingham on Celebrity Big Brother, sales of his band's second album, Safe As Fuck (Atlantic), have increased by 400 per cent. Goldie Lookin' Chain, the Argos-jewellery-wearing, rude-rapping Welsh mischief-makers, were regarded as something of a cult novelty act before the relatively unknown Maggot walked into the House. Now they are all but a household name, and, as their man faces the possibility of eviction tonight, the band are preparing to take to the road on a major UK tour.

It's difficult to sort truth from fiction when talking to the boys. Much of what they say (including their selfpenned press releases and biographical notes) should be taken with a generous pinch of salt. What we do know is that the eight-piece combo sport shiny Eighties tracksuits and display diabolical dancing techniques; the squalid underbelly of their home town of Newport is a constant lyrical theme; and their songs, all delivered in broad Welsh accents, include such dubious gems as Your Missus Is a Nutter.

When I meet six of them - 2H@ts, 26; Mike Balls, 24; Mysty, 28; Adam Hussain, 29; Billy Webb, 24; and producer Xain, 28; (27-year-old Eggsy is absent due to illness, Maggot's in the house) - I'm struck by how close they are to their onstage personae. To a man, they are just on the cool side of dishevelled, wearing leisurewear that's just on the right side of vintage. A fug of marijuana rises, rude, funny banter echoes round the room, and the talk quickly turns to Maggot's performance on TV.

"Did you know he's got a big crush on Rula Lenska?" asks Mike Balls.

"He used to call her the Polish Princess. He's in love with her."

"I wanted to go into the Big Brother House, but they didn't want me," complains Xain, who only six months ago moved out of his mother's and into the smart bachelor pad where we meet. "They thought I'd go nuts after two days without weed," he continues. "So I said, 'Let's get Maggot involved.

He's always entertaining, he's got a nice bum,' and we thought, 'Why keep it to ourselves?'" They soon tire of talking about their incarcerated comrade, however, revealing greater interest in his BB housemate Michael Barrymore.

"Our advice to Maggot was not to be freaked out by Barrymore," says Mysty. "I told him to think of Barrymore as an uncle who's done something bad that no one in the family wants to talk about."

Their conversation is peppered with libellous anecdotes about both men, along with the names of Prunella Scales, Penelope Keith and Jeremy Beadle.

But for all their silly chat and lyrical celebration of chav culture, there's something very knowing about the way they talk to one another, something that suggests they are far better educated than they might like us to think. They play dumb, but then, in an unguarded moment, 2H@ts lets slip that he has a degree in psychology from Swansea University. It transpires that Mysty, a bearded, druid-like figure, is a former IT consultant who designed the band's particularly sophisticated website, a catalyst for their initial popularity.

Most damning of all, the huge grass joints being passed around have been rolled on top of a stack of copies of New Scientist.

There's an irony in their lyrics, too, which sets them apart from other British rap acts. While The Streets spouts frankly about the life of a working-class youth, he would never inject the kind of gentle mockery that GLC display on the chav ballad You Knows I Loves You: "I'll give you a rose, pull out your chair when we eat/F*** it, I can't, 'cos in McDonald's it's a bolted seat."

Londoners such as Dizzee Rascal rap in their own accents about local issues, but GLC's music is British on a more fundamental level. With an ironic twist on US hip-hop slang, their lyrics take delight in the ridiculous-things in life. …


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