A & E
Ain't no anger-filled, white-boy rap; this is England's own, The Streets
A & E Editor
With talk of geezers and barneys, and an accent as thick as Birmingham, England can generate, one cannot help but be enamored with the beats and rhymes of 22-year-old Mike Skinner's alter ego, The Streets.
Upon listening to The Streets' first disk, "Original Pirate Material," you might not know what to make of this completely unconventional sound.
Every song has a different vibe, and the spoken word of Skinner's raps cover such contrary topics as war, smoking herb and playing video games. Friends of Skinner will say he is an MC by no means, but a producer, and this shows on the intricate catchy beats that are undoubtedly made with limited equipment.
Furthermore, Skinner will especially appeal to his American audience with his catchy word choice. Girls are "birds," lame people are "geezers" and the ska mainstay, "oi," is used much like "yo" in American hip-hop.
"Original Pirate Material" is as eclectic as the best rock albums, covering everything from drum and bass to techno to hip-hop. The album starts out with "Turn the Page" an offhand song with an original beat and a violin overlay that brings about the image of a warrior going to battle.
The next track is completely different, with a more techno type of sound that echoes dancehall. This framework continues throughout the CD; each song is completely different than the one before it.
The first single from the CD is "Let's Push Things Forward," a song with an infecting beat and lyrics. The sampled chorus reveals Skinner's views on music: "You say that everything sounds the same, then you go buy them; there's no excuse my friend, let's push things forward."
Pushing things forward is exactly what Skinner is doing. His style merits no label, and his music fits no category.
One of the stand-out songs on the disk is track four. With its catchy chorus, "Geezers need excitement; if their lives don't provide 'em, they stay and incite violence; common sense, simple common sense," the song of the same name will most likely get caught in your head, as it did in mine (while annoying my roommates and friends for days after my first listen).
|Photo courtesy of www.the-streets.co.uk
Direct from Birmingham, England, The Streets designs music from the viewpoint of a producer. He creates intracate beats and his lyrics are filled with catchy word choices.
Another killer track is "Irony of It All," where Skinner plays the vocal roles of two characters. One is a loud, fight-ready boozer, and the other is a mellow, soft-spoken stoner; each revels in the positives of his drug of choice.
The best line from this song, "I just completed Gran Turismo on the hardest setting; I pose no threat to my city," as uttered by the stoner character, goes to show just how tame marijuana really is compared to the effect alcohol has on its users.
The first thing that comes to mind whenever white musicians enter the rap or hip-hop popular spectrum is how similar they are to other white hip-hop artists. The journalistic community has already compared The Streets to America's psychotic, white wonderboy, Eminem, and I find the comparison to be asinine.
First of all, Skinner doesn't rap, he more or less just places a suited dialogue over his homemade constructed beats.
As for the music that serves as the foundation for his verbal rants, Skinner himself sheds some light on those who influenced him by giving shouts out to DJs like Paul Oakenfold, not the same hip-hop pioneers heard throughout traditional rap records today.
What Skinner is doing is innovate and should be respected and enjoyed as such.
The playability of "Original Pirate Material" is excellent, and the lyrics always reveal something new upon each listen.
The Streets' music might get discounted as just adolescent ravings of a fan, but this music is much more than that and should not be just tossed aside.
© 2003 Shoreline Community College