The Streets

Paul Wong
The Streets
Original Pirate Material
Vice/Atlantic

Original Pirate Material

Vice/Atlantic

Rating: four stars.

When British MC Mike Skinner, a.k.a. the Streets, released his debut album in the U.K. earlier this year, the comparison was inevitable: white boy from a gritty, industrial town – ‘s gotta be England’s answer to Eminem. Yeah, I guess, but that’s about as far as you can take the comparison. While Slim Shady rhymes about killing bitches and raping his mother, Skinner talks of getting high and playing video games.

Featuring garage beats and a vocal style somewhere between rap and spoken word, Original Pirate Material won’t fit neatly into any genre. The Streets’ beats are made up of piano and string samples, soul music snippets, and reggae rhythms over heavy bass groves.

Thematically, Original Pirate Material has a lot more in common with Mellow Gold than the Marshall Mathers LP. Covering such topics as fast food, weed and PlayStation, Skinner recalls the slacker-rock movement of the early ’90s. He puts an English spin on American hip-hop braggadocio, boasting “I just completed Grand Turismo on the hardest setting.” Even when he does get cheeky and declares how phat his rhymes are, he does it with a sense of humor: “My crew laughs at your rhubarb and custard verses.” But the album’s funniest moment comes on “The Irony of It All” which features a debate between an old drunken lout and a young weedhead on their respective drugs of choice.

Original Pirate Material is essentially for the lazy and ambitionless like me – those who never get around to registering to vote; those who play Tecmo Super Bowl when they should be studying. It’s not that we can’t accomplish anything of substance; it’s just that we don’t feel like it. But thankfully we have blokes like Mike Skinner who remind us that there’s nothin’ wrong with being lazy.

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