2002 debut is enhanced with the videos of 'Weak Become Heroes' and 'Let's Push Things Forward'. The album is nominated for this year's Mercury Prize, alongside luminaries David Bowie and Doves and was certified Gold in ... more » the UK. Vice.« less
2002 debut is enhanced with the videos of 'Weak Become Heroes' and 'Let's Push Things Forward'. The album is nominated for this year's Mercury Prize, alongside luminaries David Bowie and Doves and was certified Gold in the UK. Vice.
Barry P. from PLUMAS LAKE, CA Reviewed on 4/16/2007...
Someone should grab this cd - great, minimal British Hip-Hop.
You're listening to the Streets
Kurt Lennon | Calgary | 08/16/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Don't listen to the righteous hip-hop "martyrs" who claim this album is a droll monotone Brit rhyming over a bedrock of crappy Casio beats. It's those close-minded fans who have stagnated hip-hop into the bling-bling and b*tches joke that it is today. Hip-hop was never supposed to be exclusive to anyone: whoever could tell a story had every right to. Go through a list of rappers selling albums today and 90% of them are an absolute joke.
It's about time a breath of fresh air came from ANYwhere in the world, even if its from the United Kingdom, which has been entertaining garage and hip-hop for years behind the US's back. Mike Skinner, producer-writer-rapper extraordinaire behind the Streets, has crafted an album many rappers would kill to call their own: at 48 minutes long, it doesn't overstay its welcome; it's free of filler and worthless skits; and it actually says something. In between smart stories about everyday life for burned-out British kids wasting life on Playstation and in "greasy spoon cafetarias" are sharp social commentaries on the irony of legal alcohol and illegal weed, and the hopelessness of the drug culture many kids fall victim to.Turn the Page: apocalyptic, his statement of intent. A+
Has it Come to This?: devastating description of his surroundings. A banging track. A+
Let's Push Thing's Forward: a call of arms for originality to slay "pop formulas". Ska-influenced. A
Sharp Darts: a little bragadoccio. B
Same Old Thing: bangs like a couple of prom night. A
Geezers Need Excitment: a strange beat, great story of hoping to see fights in bars. A-
It's Too Late: a love lament, inspired. A
Too Much Brandy: been drinking again? A-
Don't Mug Yourself: no, that girl doesn't like you, stop being so whipped. A
Who Got the Funk?: "Just a groove" B
The Irony of it All: the aforementioned "fight" between Terry the drunk and Tim the pothead. Funny, yet sharp. A
Weak Become Heroes: the absolute best lyric about the drug culture, set to a dying beat. A+
Who Dares Wins: good title, but only 30 seconds long. B
Stay Positive: the second best lyric, encouraging a friend struggling with a heroin addiction. Jaw-dropping finale. A+Tell me some duschbag like Fabolous or Ludacris or any of those dime-a-dozen rappers could craft something so insightful. In terms of capturing a particular moment in a generation, the Streets' album does it the best. A supreme achievement."
English Rap? An Oxymoron?
mattyp4 | New York, NY United States | 11/01/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I heard so much about The Streets (Mike Skinner) before their album landed on American shores. I usually don't buy into hype.... okay, I do. So I naturally went out & bought this as soon as I saw the cheap domestic price. Maybe it was the price, or the excellent album cover (evokes modern northern English working class perfectly), but there's something about this album that I took a liking to immediately.
The music itself is awesome. I can't relate to a lot of things Mike Skinner raps about, but it's clearly 100% pathos. I know a lot of American rap is honest, raw, confessional, etc, but musically, I don't find it very original. For starters, most mainstream American rap songs these days consist of sampled hits of the 70's or 80's, usually sung by a female, with a male rapping over the verses. Hardly original. (I know that is a gross generalization & that there is plenty of good rap out there, but the format is all similar). The Streets' lyrics are brutally honest-- mostly the life of a young working class bloke from Birmingham-- without a sampled retro melody to be found. I love Skinner's cocky pseudo-philosophy sung in his thick Cockney accent. It's priceless. And totally fresh. He's not irate, sexist, & hostile like a lot of American rappers (again with the generaliztions, I know).
But as stated earlier, the music is what makes this album great. For starters, it's music. Simply put. Like, strings, organs, trumpets & everything. It's not just a paltry beat box or anything. I'd actually classify it as chill-out/electronica music as oppose to rap.
Most of The Streets' listeners are hipster fans of Britpop & the indie music scene, but I'm waiting for it to catch on amongst American rap fans. Again, it's not the rap Americans are used to hearing, but if it were, I'd be happy."
Is it rap? Spoken Word? Who cares; it WINS
Scott Woods | Columbus, Ohio United States | 04/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Was so far under the radar that it's a crime. This record is the best hip-hop record of 2002 you never heard.Well, calling it a hip-hop record is a little disengenuous. The vocal stylings of this one-man show (UK layabout Mike Skinner) come off like rap, but the vocal rhythm is all over the place and it ends up coming off like spoken word more than rap. Thing is, the second you think he's going in one direction, it flips into others and we're left with a record that almost defies every category but trip-hop comfortably. Even the beats are all over the place in context: dance, hip-hop, drum-n-bass...the kid's got a mad record collection at home.It's catchy stuff, with sung choruses and VERY funny stories if you can decipher the UK dialect ("roight? Sod off, blud'y bastard!"). He's got smart, great takes on the music industry ("Let's Push Things Forward"), the legalization of weed, youth rebellion and Playstation, especially on a super-witty self-duet entitled "The Irony of it All" about how off it is that alcohol is legal and weed isn't, especially in light of the (here) frequently comicly violent outcome of alcholics when weighed against the puff-puff-live philosophies of your average weedhead. This track is a instant classic.The beats are almost straight old school, but fresh, bootleg-like takes on the genre. "Sharp Darts" and "Geezers Need Excitement" could just as easily have ended up on a dozen hip-hop records that came out last week. The more dance-oriented fare even manages to keep the attention of the electronic illiterate on tracks like "Has It Come To This?"
One of the most winning tracks on here, one so witty it bears pointing out single-handedly, is the extremly fun "Don't Mug Yourself", which is about a guy getting all bent up over a girl while his boys dog him out for being soft. Hilarious, and real. Oy! The cool thing about this record is that it isn't about being the best rapper or having the most vast and overwrought production, it's about being oneself...something The Streets does with not only grace, but a sharp eye for what wins hearts."
English sense of humour.
Mr. M. C. Hood | Bury St Edmunds, England | 12/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I know the Streets have many fans the world over but I feel I must address some of the negative reviews expressed by the American market. I am not saying people are wrong to criticise the album, if you don't like it you don't like it, fair enough, but some of the negative remarks levelled at it seem to show a lack of understanding. This, however, is not the American record buying public's fault. Unless you are actually British there are aspects of the Streets that you just wont get. References to American culture often leave English listeners cold and I presume the same can be said for the reverse. Typical cockney slang and references to mundane day to day British institutions create a sense of unity the uninitiated just wont get. There is also many gripes about the monotonousness of Mike Skinner's voice. This is a reasonable complaint unless you have worked dead end jobs in London, gone to work in industrial Sheffield with a chronic hang over or been clubbing in some seedy nightclub in Southend. Only after experiencing the uniquely British working class way of life can you begin to appreciate that monotone is the only style plausible. It isn't exciting, it isn't glamorous, it isn't `ghetto' or `pimpin' its day to day boring British life. It rains, its cold, the food is processed and nasty, and our jobs are dull. We live for the weekend We moan about it but that's how it is.
In celebrating this brain crushingly lifeless existence Mike Skinner is giving a depressing beauty to the humdrum activities of the disenchanted British Youth. Like the musical equivalent of a Lowry painting. He picks on shared experiences or stereotypical characters like some sort of urban observational comedian replacing the laughter with a frighteningly accurate truth about the futile yet strangely fulfilling nature of the `weekend culture' generation.
Many complain that the beats and samples are generic and over played but THAT'S THE POINT. They are original yet you would swear you have heard them somewhere before. Each one is a stereotype of itself echoing and emulating some forgotten club classic (the same piano loops over and over) the origins of which you cant put your finger on but which stirs memories and feelings of drunken nights with friends, hazy flashbacks to the night before and people you have spent entire nights talking to but would never recognise again.
His vocals follow a similar vein of familiarity. Whilst not sticking to traditional syllabic vocal patterns Skinners lyrics are delivered in more of a free form style, one which is much closer to everyday speech than rapping. In doing this he takes on the role of the average guy in the pub giving his opinions of the world to anyone who will listen. Rhymes are rarely perfect and his words fit only loosely to the beats. We all know blokes like this. Skinner, however, picks the overriding social and political attitudes of the nation's down-trodden youth and cleverly vocalises them in a constant stream of buzz word ridden, alcohol infused stories of urban life. Generalisations maybe, but the truth nonetheless.
So please don't judge this as a rap album and compare it to Jurassic 5 or Gang Starr for that is missing the point entirely. It's a document of British urban life, a snapshot of the despondency yet underlying optimism of the millions occupying our club scene, dole queues and factories around Britain. This album is the sound of Monday morning heading to work with a hang over, it's sitting in a grimy local pub with your mates watching your football team lose, it's getting ready to go out on a Friday night with a pocket full of cash and nothing to spend it on but a weekend of clubbing, it's the worst kebab in the world which tastes fantastic because it represents the filth we put up with in Britain yet endure with a smile on our face.
After all its only five days `till the weekend.
We all smile we all sing. "
Album of the year so far...
mattyp4 | 10/26/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This... album is [incredible]. It is the most compelling album I have ever heard. There are so many new and [interesting] things going on... in this record that once it's over you immediately [put it back on again]. This is the album for people who've gotten bored with hip hop. In fact, it's not really hip hop. It's VERY VERY British, and that's a good thing. We need more British rappers if this Skinner guy (who pretty much is the Streets)'s rhyme scheme is [any indication]. He says really [interesting] lines like, "I wholeheartedly agree with your viewpoint." and "I just completed Grand Turismo on the highest setting. We pose no threat on my city." and "Oh, the pizza's here, will someone let him in? We didn't order chicken, not a problem we'll pick it out. I doubt they meant to mess us about." It's this sort of [stream-of-consciousness ranting] that's at the heart of the album. Lines like "I turn left up the street, nothing but gray concrete and deadbeats." Which reminds me, why are there so many albums out there about life in Britain (Blur's Parklife and The Great Escape are about the working-class and the upper-class respectively, and let's lust MENTION Arthur by the Kinks) and there's NONE about American life? I mean, come on, Bruce Springsteen? Nah, too centered on "blue-collar" work I guess. Anyway, the best song on here is without question "Weak Become Heroes," where Skinner goes VERY stream-of-consciousness after hearing a song in a bar reminds him of his rave days "'Cause me and you are the same. I've known you all my life, I don't know your name. The name's European Bob, saw it. Anyway, have a dance now see you later. Pleased to meet you. Likewise a pleasure... Out of respect to Johnny Walker, Paul Oakenfold, Nicky Holloway, Danny Rumpling, and all the people who gave us these times. And to the government I stick my middle finger up with regards to the Criminal Justice Bill." Sighing luminations on being lazy and living on the dole. Like [hey!!] This is the greatest social commentary you'll ever hear in your entire life. And the fact that it was made by some guy goofing around in his bedroom enhances this statement rather than negates it. Yeah. Perfectly appropriate."