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Last Updated:  Monday, 13 January, 2003, 20:15 GMT
Mike Skinner: Voice of The Streets
Mike Skinner: A British Eminem?
The Streets, who have been given four Brit Award nominations, is the one-man band better known as Birmingham musician Mike Skinner.

Mike Skinner knew at the age of nine that he wanted to make records but he had 13 years to wait before he would finally succeed.

But if the wait was long, the success when it arrived more than compensated.

A very remarkable record from a teenage young man talking about what it's like to be young in the city
Simon Frith, Mercury jury chairman
His album, Original Pirate Material, has been described as one of the most authentic voices of British youth for many years.

The fact it was recorded in his bedroom at his mother's house in Birmingham has become part of the legend that has begun to surround Skinner.

Unique talents

He has been compared to Eminem, lauded as the voice of Blair's Britain and the Mercury Music Prize nomination is a heady accolade for one so young.

The fact he is ranked alongside some of the UK's freshest acts, including Ms Dynamite, The Coral and The Bees, and one of the country's few truly unique talents in David Bowie, is likely to add to the legend of the boy from Birmingham.

Mike Skinner
Part of the "Barratt class"
At the age of five the boy wonder had apparently been "fiddling with keyboards", later building his own sound booth out of a cupboard and an old mattress and turning his bedroom into "rap central".

His early teen efforts, influenced by De La Soul and the Beastie Boys, were American-centric copies of hip-hop records.


He has derided his early efforts as "rapping in an American accent, all that crap".

After years of apeing American music, he returned to what he knew best, his own life, after returning from a year in Australia.

On the album he sings about life as a "geezer", of lager, fast food and failure with women.

The Streets started out as a group project but quickly became a one-man act as band members fell away.

Much has been made of his "authentic, working class origins" but Skinner has himself made light of the myth.


He has described himself as not working class or middle class but after a British housebuilding company: "Barratt class: suburban estates, not poor but not much money about, really boring".

His chances for the Mercury Prize in 2002 were good, although he lost out to Ms Dynamite, and he had the tacit backing from the head of the jury, Simon Frith.

He said: "The critics' favourite, the industry's favourite and the bookies' favourite; I think this is a very remarkable record from a teenage young man talking about what it's like to be young in the city."



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