The Streets' ORIGINAL PIRATE MATERIAL was one of the first UK hip-hop albums the average American listener was likely to hear (at least since Neneh Cherry's RAW LIKE SUSHI over a decade before). It also represented the first Stateside crossover of the uniquely British mixture of ultra-spare hip-hop beats, chilly electronics, and sonic minimalism labeled "grime." Birmingham-born Mike Skinner, the Streets' mastermind, doesn't have much in the way of flow in comparison to the best American rappers, but he's part of a long tradition of plain-speaking street-level geezers in British music, the most obvious inspiration being punk godfather Ian Dury. (Skinner even updates Dury's catchphrase into the line "Sex and drugs and on the dole" on the powerful mission statement "Has It Come To This?") Skinner's everybloke delivery adds immediacy to the small victories and everyday frustrations sketched in his lyrics, and a mordant sense of humor enlivens otherwise deadly serious tunes like "The Irony Of It All," a pro-legalization song that sets the beery machismo of a conservative alcoholic against the pacifist slackerdom of a liberal marijuana user.
What the critics say...
Rolling Stone (12/26/02, p.110) - Included in Rolling Stone's "50 Best Albums of 2002"
Rolling Stone (12/26/02, p.104) - Ranked #1 in Rolling Stone's list of 2002's "10 Best Debuts"
Rolling Stone (11/28/02, p.86) - "...Funky....[With] hilarious faux-cockney rhymes..."
Spin (1/03, p.74) - Ranked #17 on Spin's list of 2002's "Albums of the Year"
Spin (11/02, p.128) - 8 out of 10 - "...Rarely short of poignant..."
Entertainment Weekly (12/20-27/02, p.126) - Ranked #1 on EW's list of 2002's "Albums of the Year"
Entertainment Weekly (11/8/02, pp.102-3) - "...[Skinner] takes U.K. garage to a new level, making for the year's most striking debut..." - Rating: A
Q (12/02, p.68) - Included in Q Magazine's "50 Best Albums of 2002"
Uncut (1/03, p.94) - Ranked #5 in Uncut's "100 Best Albums of the Year" - "...[A] brilliantly realised, heartfelt journal of a live lived on the edge of society..."
CMJ (10/28/02, p.7) - "...It's not just that Skinner's ideas are innovative, but also the way that he so deftly brings the varying styles together, that makes his debut record so special..."
Mojo (Publisher) (1/03, p.72) - Ranked #14 in Mojo's "Best Albums of 2002" - "...The Streets' stunning debut captures the mundane thrills of urban living..."