Okay, okay, okay, okay, okay. Before you cue in on the ridiculous cockney accent, realize that on the other side of the Atlantic, the man in the video above is considered the voice of a generation, the greatest rapper his country has ever seen, and a lyrical genius. This is Mike Skinner, a.k.a. The Streets, and as ridiculous as that name sounds coming from someone who could pass as an actor in a Guy Ritchie movie, he is considered the U.K.’s answer to Eminem, and in my opinion, far superior to his trailer-park bred counterpart.
His first album, Original Pirate Material, was originally produced entirely in his bedroom, and, like his main inspiration The Wu-Tang Clan, is equal parts fantasy and gritty reality. Instead of referencing Kung-Fu movies, as his Shaolin predecessors were famous for, he compares himself to a Roman Gladiator, fighting his way through the grimiest council estate in Britain:
His next album, A Grand Don’t Come for Free, is generally considered to be his masterpiece. The entire album takes the form of a single story line, where the main character loses £1,000 as well as his girlfriend, and throughout the album attempts to gain it back again. It’s also the album that gave him his two biggest hits; The mopey-ballad “Dry Your Eyes” and the addictive, hook-laden “Fit But You Know it”:
His next album, The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living chronicles his rise to fame, and all the drug-abuse and debauchery that comes with it. His song “When You Wasn’t Famous” caused controversy due to the fact that it implicated an anonymous female pop-star in the use of crack:
His most recent album, Everything is Borrowed, released on Tuesday, has a more positive vibe, after the bacchanalia ensuing on the previous one. The lead single and title track at the beginning of this post, reveals a completely different direction taken by the artist.
It may be hard to wrap your head around the idea of an English MC, but the same was said in the 1960’s when four white guys from Liverpool decided to sing blues songs made popular by black musicians. What would music be like now if people didn’t take them seriously?