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Original Pirate Material

Original Pirate Material

4.2 7
by The Streets

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It's too easy to call Mike Skinner, a.k.a. the Streets, the British Eminem, given that both are working-class, hip-hop-bred blokes with a boy-next-door face and an electrifying delivery. But where Em spews venom to settle personal scores, the 22-year-old Skinner is too busy chronicling the youth culture of Blair's Britain. Skinner's songs are


It's too easy to call Mike Skinner, a.k.a. the Streets, the British Eminem, given that both are working-class, hip-hop-bred blokes with a boy-next-door face and an electrifying delivery. But where Em spews venom to settle personal scores, the 22-year-old Skinner is too busy chronicling the youth culture of Blair's Britain. Skinner's songs are peppered with visceral day-in-the-life details chronicling beer and drug consumption, video game addictions, pub brawls, iffy relationships, and life on the dole -- minus the potty mouth that makes Eminem so abrasive to women, gays, and generally sensible folks. It's a bland council-flat existence where music represents escape and salvation. Skinner's lyrical flow may borrow from Yankee rappers, but his Birmingham-by-way-of-South London accent, his deadpan verbosity, and his 2-step garage beats are distinctly British. Americans had a taste of the garage style on Craig David's soul hit Born to Do It, but Skinner's homemade beats are raw as sushi and potent as wasabi. His songs are theatrical, but there's little role-playing -- outside of the hilarious "The Irony of It All," a sparring match between a lager-fueled Joe and a pothead college student, both played by Skinner. More representative is the mock soul "Has It Come to This?," in which he builds tension by pitting an easy-on-the-ears music bed -- a soul sample, a slinky keyboard, electronic beats -- against his drug-addled but eerily lucid flow, a breathless tale that reports, almost journalistically, on a geezer's typical day. Equally jarring and compelling is "Let's Push Things Forward," a horn-sprinkled tune that evokes the Specials' politically charged ska hit "Ghost Town" with lyrics that turn on a dime from biting to wasted: "This ain't your typical garage joint/I make points which hold significance/That ain't a bag, it's a shipment/This ain't a track, it's a movement...I make bangers, not anthems/Leave that to the Artful Dodger." He's part underground CNN, part amped-up knob-twiddler, and Mike Skinner's debut -- already nominated for Britain's Mercury Prize -- is a dance music event: smart, compelling, yes, banging -- and not to be missed.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - John Bush
When Streets tracks first appeared in DJ sets and on garage mix albums circa 2000, they made for an interesting change of pace; instead of hyper-speed ragga chatting or candy-coated divas (or both), listeners heard banging tracks hosted by a strangely conversational bloke with a mock cockney accent and a half-singing, half-rapping delivery. It was Mike Skinner, producer and MC, the half-clued-up, half-clueless voice behind club hits "Has It Come to This?" and "Let's Push Things Forward." Facing an entire full-length of Streets tracks hardly sounded like a pleasant prospect, but Skinner's debut, Original Pirate Material, is an excellent listen -- much better than the heavy-handed hype would make you think. Unlike most garage LPs, it's certainly not a substitute for a night out; it's more a statement on modern-day British youth, complete with all the references to Playstations, Indian takeaway, and copious amounts of cannabis you'd expect. Skinner also has a refreshing way of writing songs, not tracks, that immediately distinguishes him from most in the garage scene. True, describing his delivery as rapping would be giving an undeserved compliment (you surely wouldn't hear any American rappers dropping bombs like this line: "I wholeheartedly agree with your viewpoint"). Still, nearly every song here succeeds wildly, first place (after the hits) going to "The Irony of It All," on which Skinner and a stereotypical British lout go back and forth "debating" the merits of weed and lager, respectively (Skinner's meek, agreeable commentary increasingly, and hilariously, causes "Terry" to go off the edge). The production is also excellent; "Let's Push Things Forward" is all lurching ragga flow, with a one-note organ line and drunken trumpets barely pushing the chorus forward. "Sharp Darts" and "Too Much Brandy" have short, brutal tech lines driving them, and really don't need any more for maximum impact. Though club-phobic listeners may find it difficult placing Skinner as just the latest dot along a line connecting quintessentially British musicians/humorists/social critics Nöel Coward, the Kinks, Ian Dury, the Jam, the Specials, and Happy Mondays, Original Pirate Material is a rare garage album: that is, one with a shelf life beyond six months.
Rolling Stone - Gavin Edwards
The relentlessly smart Original Pirate Material blends two-step garage beats with conversational rapping, low-key in effect but bold in content.
Entertainment Weekly - David Browne
The year's most striking debut. (A)
One of the most original British pop voices in years.

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Release Date:
Vice Records

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Original Pirate Material 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is solid. The kind of album that occurs only when you get someone wanting to do things his own way and not yet having to kowtow to the music industry. It is original. Look, to say he's the "British Eminem" is to do a disservice to this album. It stands up on it's own to be sure. It's clever. Smart with out being snobby. These are songs not just raps. Just buy it already and you'll see.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This cd is a new era of british rap and hip-hop. Some people may say it is bad. But i LOVE IT!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just picked this album up yesturday and I've played it about 40 times already. It's very original and has a definitely off-beat sound. If you want some good smokin music this is it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I heard one of The Street's songs on the radio, and I was really struck by how offbeat and refreshing it was. I got on his website and looked at his altogether funny and amazing video collection, and I knew I had to buy this CD. I am not a rap fan as a rule, but I really love this album - it has not left my cd player since I got it. I reccomend this to anyone, it is funny, and surprisingly smart. While some of it may strike some as strange, keep listening, The Streets are here to stay.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you want words, if you want lyrics, and if you don't need to much music to wrap it all up, this is the album for you. The music is too shallow in this Clash-like-reggea-on a keyboard album. The ideas are nice, but dude, where's are the tunes?
Guest More than 1 year ago
this an absolutely great CD- it goes up there with Phish's Rift and the Beatles's Sgt. Pepper, some of my all-time favorite albums. As another comment said, I also don't go for rap as a rule, but this is not rap, it is pure brilliance and geniosity. But it ASAP!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago