Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Hardest Way to Earn an Easy Living

Mike Skinner, aka The Streets, is famous. In a pretty big way. And what do you do when you've spent 4 years rhyming/rapping/singing about the traumas of quasi-poverty in London's north, and you're faced with serious wealth, miders to pay your bills, serve your food and drive your rolls? Complain about it, of course. And Skinner does so with the same brutal honesty seen on 2000's Original Pirate Material and 2003's A Grand Don't Come for Free.
However, where those records were full of bouncing, original, creative garage beats, melodies and guest vocals that were by turns funny and inventive, The Hardest Way... seems to be drowning in a sea of cliche. Suddenly, many of the guest vocalists sound like Montell Jordan, and the beats and loops sound like the same rubbish you might hear on the Rage top 60 on a Saturday morning.
Not only that, but it seems that this wasn't a Skinner idea, as his vocals seem uncomfortable over the top of the music on this record. Painful to say as this is, but perhaps the men in suits have got to The Streets.
So while ranting about the joys of a blatantly materialistic lifestyle on Memento Mori, or mourning the death of his father on Never went to CHurch, Skinner retains his wit and charm, it seems US success has (funnily enough) tainted what was once a thoroughly original artist.


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