In a thrilling UK Garage scene, blighted only by a reliance on drippy soul cliché and tiresome braggadocio, The Streets' eminently quotable Mike Skinner may just be the voice to take it to the next level with Original Pirate Material
. This debut is a staggeringly eloquent and fearlessly honest snapshot of gritty street-level existence, as experienced by an ordinary bloke. At first listen, the Birmingham-born Skinner's cheeky cockney affectations grate slightly. But for every line that makes you squirm, there are 20 that drop your jaw. "Has It Come to This?" is "A day in the life of a geezer," a seductive encapsulation of London lifestyle, presented raw as a bootleg, but bulging with sharp wit and feverish detail. "Stay Positive" weaves a fearful tale of heroin addiction, while "The Irony of It All" makes a beguiling case for legalization, presenting a fictional exchange between a beered-up, self-righteous lager lout and a fey student weed enthusiast. Original Pirate Material
is a milestone, the real voice of British youth set down on record. Don't miss it. --Louis Pattison
This stunning debut by The Streets, a.k.a. Mike Skinner, melds hip-hop, dub, ska, and dance beats with lyrics that flip from humorous to dark to introspective and back again. "Original Pirate Material" is nominated for this year's Mercury Prize, alongside luminaries David Bowie and Doves, and was certified gold in the UK. Enhanced CD contains videos of "Weak Become Heroes" and "Let's Push Things Forward". "Not since `Never Mind The Bollocks'"has there been a record that has said as much about being young"--BBC. Parental Advisory.