Two years on, with a whole new generation of sharp-tongued UK MC's (from Dizzee Rascal to Lady Sovereign) paying tribute to his influence, Mike Skinner is back. And within the first five seconds of his new single "Fit But You Know It" - a riotous celebration of package-holiday mating rituals destined to cause carnage on Europe's dancefloors (All together now: "I reckon you're about an eight or a nine, maybe even a nine and a half in four beers' time") - it's already clear that he's come up with a worthy successor to Original Pirate Material.
A Grand Don't Come For Free was made in exactly the same way as its illustrious predecessor. That is, with Skinner working mostly at home, "supplying his own samples" (for example that savage glam-punk guitar on "Fit But You Know It" is not some horribly mangled offshoot of David Bowie's "Jean Genie", it's Mike riffing it up on a borrowed Fender Telecaster), and friends coming back from the pub to contribute occasional background mayhem.
Beneath the bubbling stream-of-consciousness lyrics for which he is justifiably renowned ("shut the door behind me, huddled up in my coat, condensation floating off my breath, squinting out the sun, my jeans felt a bit tight, think I washed them too high ..."), The Streets' uniquely rough-edged production continues to rearrange the building blocks of the last fifteen years of dance music into bold and unexpected new shapes. Acid's random bleeps, the euphoric piano sound of Italian House. Jungle's spiraling sub-bass, Trance's psychotropic drum surge, UK Garage's sexy string stabs: they're all in here somewhere, just in a very different order to the one they originally evolved in.
Listen to A Grand Don't Come For Free for the first time on the bus home or taking a sick dog to the vets, and all the little details will seep into your mind. But put it on through headphones in the early hours of the morning and a whole imaginative new world opens up. Just as it did on first hearing Massive Attack's Blue Lines or Dizzee Rascal's Boy In Da Corner - or, indeed, The Streets' Original Pirate Material.
Are you sitting comfortably? Good, then it's time to begin...
The Streets new album “A Grand Don’t Come Free” on Vice Recordings will hit the states next week 5/18. But you don’t have to wait till then to hear it. Check this link to stream the full album
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