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EDITIONS
Thursday, 28 March, 2002, 12:25 GMT
Coming up from The Streets
The 22-year-old hails from Birmingham
Mike Skinner made the album at his mum's house

He has been called the English Eminem and the authentic voice of Blair's Britain.

His album has been called the year's best debut release and one of the most important albums of 2002.

Not bad for a 22-year-old bedroom maestro who was unknown just a few weeks ago but is now being hailed as the man behind the most exciting, original sound to come from the UK for a long time.

Mike Skinner created the album, Original Pirate Material, on his home computer but the music comes from the places that he has named his act after, The Streets.

The CD is a collection of uncompromising and inventive tunes that straddle musical boundaries and provide a succinct, funny map of modern urban society.

Mike Skinner - not to be confused with Eminem
The album has a very British identity
And it has excited so many people because of its plain-speaking, unforced social commentary that Skinner, from Birmingham, raps with charisma over a kaleidoscope of beats.

That is why he has been compared to Eminem - not because he likes chainsaws or talks about putting dead women in the back of his car - but because he sums up the spirit of a generation.

It is a generation that is fed up with music and politicians that both feel manufactured, a generation that goes on drinking binges, smokes cannabis and spends hours playing computer games.

The album paints a vista of dodgy geezers, grim tower blocks, wired nights out and street fights.

And it is a very British scene - unmistakably made in a run-down suburb of one of the country's major cities, reminiscent of past masters like Ian Dury or The Specials.

Skinner marks out his territory and makes sure people do not confuse him with Eminem by telling listeners to the single Let's Push Things Forward that: "Around here we say birds, not bitches."


In musical terms, he has been hailed as the next big garage star - but he is miles away from So Solid Crew and their ghetto fabulous style

Some vistas are illustrated by characters who are subtly ridiculous but still very believable.

The Irony Of It All includes a fantastic mini-saga, which starts with Terry, a "geezer" who yells: "There's nothing I like more than getting fired up on beer, and when the weekend's here I exercise my right to get paralytic and fight."

Then comes Tim, a well-spoken engineering student and weed-smoker who says: "In the eyes of society, I need to be in jail for the choice of herbs I inhale - this ain't no wholesale operation, just a few eighths and a Playstation."

The pair go on to antagonise each other and come to blows in a hilarious variation on the theme that the law is an ass.

Innovative

In musical terms, he has been hailed as the next big garage star - but he is miles away from So Solid Crew and their ghetto fabulous style.

His sound has been compared with that of garage crews because of the urban feel of the harsh, jolting beats on some of the songs.

But he does not belong on the same shelf as So Solid.

He uses a range of sounds as backdrops for his lyrical waxing, including orchestral loops, chilled house beats, brassy reggae and stark electronic skeletons.

Together with the lyrics, they make a potent, vital package.

Original Pirate Material is released on 679 Recordings on 1 April.

See also:

05 Oct 01 | Entertainment
29 Nov 01 | Entertainment
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