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The Streets

A Grand Don't Come for Free

A Grand Don't Come for Free Album Cover

Release Date: 05.18.04
Record label: Vice / Atlantic
Genre(s): Rap, Hip-Hop, R&B, etc.


Lessons Learned
by: tom reiter

A couple years ago Mike Skinner made waves in the urban music scene with Original Pirate Material, introducing the U.S. to the U.K. hip-hop garage genre. Not only did it receive high marks, but it paved the way for future artists such as Dizzee Rascal. Many listeners haven't stowed Pirate Material away yet...and now they can feast upon The Streets newest plate of goodies.

The first quick listen I give A Grand I think to myself "Hmm..well, doesn't seem as good as his last, but I'll have to give a better listen." Let's just say it's been about two months and it's still in my car CD deck, and it usually makes the daily trip to my cubicle as well. Why? Cuz this shit is damn good.

It's a whole package; a glimpse into a tough learning period of any U.K. young man. There's something we can all relate to here. Here's a brief summary: Mike has a bad day where everything goes wrong, Mike meets girl that works with friend, Mike gets mashed at the club and doesn't comprehend his girl is cheating, Mike loves girl, Mike and girl have fight, Mike meets hot chick while out with the boys, Mike tries to hide fling with hot chick, Mike knows other friend is hiding something, girl dumps Mike, Mike learns lessons from tough times. This summary doesn't come close to describing how Skinner weaves all this together creatively.

O.k., so the plot rocks. What about the production end of things? The beats? The samples? Well, they're above par as well. Anyone familiar with Pirate Material will recognize that Mike has gone a bit softer in some areas, but A Grand... still has it's share of bangers. You'll no doubt find yourself trying to replicate Skinner's accent as you attempt to sing and rhyme along to damn near every track.

A Grand... is still different enough from the majority of today's music to make it a novelty, despite it being The Streets second album. If that's what hooks you, then it's going to be the masterpiece of the album that keeps you. This album is destined to be one of the best of the year. 03-Aug-2004 7:38 PM