The Streets - The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living

The US gave us Tupac and Chuck D and we have them Mike Skinner and The Streets. Maybe it's easy to see why UK Hip-hop is not taken seriously but there's something incredibly charming about Mike Skinner once you look past the hype of "is he the poet of a generation / England's answer to Eminem / Shakespeare set to beats" rubbish that's thrown at us with each Streets release.

On paper "The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living" should be one of the worst albums ever committed to record. For a start it's that difficult third album and secondly it's an album about the downside of fame, when the dream turns stale and the drugs kick in. "All Goes Out The Window" is gospel vocals and piano motifs juxtaposed by Skinners wide-boy cockney accent that rips though each track swinging from grating to charmingly eccentric in the space of a line. "Never Went To Church" is naturally being tagged as this albums "Dry Your Eyes" and if by this it means grown men will sing it drunkenly on the way home while women admire his sensitive side you're probably right.

Then of course there's the tracks that are truly atrocious. The single "When You Wasn't Famous" digs deeper into Skinners bargain casio box with lyrics with really do make Arctic Monkey Alex Turner look like a poet. Musically "Hotel Expressionism" is one of The Streets best tracks, think Chromeo's 80s funk styling, but Skinners eyes for details takes everything to a new level and while he talks about "throwing TV's out of the window as the ultimate cliché" the lyrics drag on and on until Ariston has become a distant memory. And the fact that "Two Nations" is being tipped as a tribute to B.I.G is a bigger insult to his name than Puff Daddy.

When Skinners good he's very good and when Skinners bad he goes past being so bad that he becomes good again. Like Eddie "the eagle" Edwards and Slush Puppies you know they're shit and ultimately the same thing with The Streets. The UK has some great hip-hop talent like Taz and Skinners own protege Kano and it's about time we started backing them rather than this joker. Extremely charming in a naff way, but musical talent - nah, no way!!!

Alex McCann

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