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The Streets - Original Pirate Material
by Dan Grote

The Streets - Original Pirate Material
Label: Vice/Atlantic Records
Turn The Page 
Has It Come To This? 
Let's Push Thing's Forward 
Sharp Darts 
Same Old Thing 
Geezer's Need Excitement 
It's Too Late 
Too Much Brandy 
Don't Mug Yourself 
Who Got The Funk? 
Irony Of It All 
Weak Becomes Heros 
Who Dares Wins 
Stay Positive
Listen to samples and Purchase this CD online


From the land of Radiohead and bands that sound kinda like Radiohead comes an artist who sounds nothing like Radiohead.

MC Skinner, a.k.a. the Streets, is England’s first white rapper. Now, this isn’t to say that our friends across the pond have their own Eminem. In fact, the Streets’ work is nothing like his American counterpart’s. Although in America, a nom de rap like the Streets might imply some connection to the ghetto (and would most likely be spelled Da Stritz), in England such a moniker refers to life in suburban, Labor-run England, and the birds and geezers who inhabit it. 

Furthermore, the rapper’s debut, Original Pirate Material, is not a celebration of ego or namechecking enemies. Skinner has his own predictions for his work: “Cult classic, not best seller.” And with his album of minimalist beats and a delivery that sounds like he’s reading his lyrics off the paper he scribbled them on, the truth is he’s a little too out there for your average hip-hop fan.

Of course, it’s this same thousands of miles of distance from American rap that puts him in a league of his own, with little risk of sounding derivative. Over the course of Original Pirate Material, the listener comes to learn a whole new set of lingo (sample slang lesson, from “Let’s Push Things Forward:” “Over here we say birds, not bitches”). Annoying men are geezers, getting angry is getting larry, and when things go bad, then go pear-shaped. Such is the casual lexicon of a 23-year-old weed aficionado and Playstation junkie.

Lyrically and musically, there’s no lack of incredible moments on this album. “The Irony of It All” details a battle of who’s-holier-than-thou between a violent drunk and a peaceful pothead, featuring this wonderful lyrical scenario: “Oh, pizza’s here. We didn’t order chicken. Not a problem, we’ll pick it out. I doubt they meant to mess us about. After all, we’re all adults, not louts.” It’s these moments, when Skinner drops the cockney and shifts to the Queen’s English that provide some of the most humorous points on the album, usually stressing his best points.

Other highlights include “Don’t Mug Yourself,” about going crazy over a girl that’s not worth it, “Geezers Need Excitement,” about the mindset of England’s soccer hooligan culture, and “Too Much Brandy,” on which Skinner attempts his best Scarface impression.

When he’s not talking about geezers and planning trips to Amsterdam (“top gear there”), Skinner is looking for love and criticizing the government. “It’s Too Late” finds Skinner trying desperately to reconcile with a girlfriend but can never bring himself to show up anywhere on time. The penultimate track, “Who Dares Wins,” ends with Skinner’s salutation to parliament: “and to the government I stick my middle finger up with regards to the criminal justice bill.”

VERDICT: If The Streets wasn’t the last amazing debut of 2002, then he should be considered the first great new artist of 2003. Skinner’s mix of hip-hop, reggae, funk, and techno presents him as the most unique talent to come out of England since Thom Yorke. Original Pirate Material is a solid disc that will introduce the listener to a brand new soundscape that’s almost too weird to copy, at least not for six more months.

Want more?

Visit the Official Website to get the lowdown

Listen to sound samples and Purchase this album online

Dan Grote is an iconoFAN contributor


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