Release Date: 10.22.02
Record label: Vice
Genre(s): Rap, Hip-Hop, R&B, etc.
Tales of Urban British Youth
by: bill aicher
So the hype's finally gotten the better of me. I've read the year-end lists, and time and time again I've seen the debut from The Streets popping up throughout. It's supposedly groundbreaking; it's supposedly the voice of modern urban youth in England. And it's "one of the most important albums you're going to hear this year ." Supposedly.
So I get a stack of new discs to review from a promo company I haven't worked with before, and one of the discs is Original Pirate Material. How am I supposed to resist at least giving it a quick listen?
Well I've listened to it. I've listened to it a lot - not because it's blowing my mind, mind you. It's just something you've got to do when you review a disc. And where has it gotten me? Pretty much exactly where I started off on the first listen:
Orginal Pirate Material is quite clever, and the beats and production are top-notch. Mike Skinner definitely has skills as both an MC and producer, and as far as hip-hop and garage goes, this is one of the more ... ummm ... truthful albums to come around in quite awhile. But it's definitely not enough to make me hurriedly append our top-ten of 2002 list.
To be fair, Original Pirate Material is unlike most everything I've ever heard (and a few months from now I might think it was really just beyond everything I've ever heard). First off, most people over here in the U.S. have no idea what garage is (much less how to pronounce the word). Second, it's not quite a garage album anyway - so calling it one is beside the point.
Throughout the disc you'll find The Streets largest talent lies in his lyrics. This is as honest as they get, especially when it comse to an inside look at what it's like to be a youth in England today. Skinner's words travel from paying the dealer, Playstations, calling the girl from last night, and so on. A welcome side-effect to this truthfulness is the ease with which the words seem to flow from Skinner's consciousness as well as the spatterings of humour that find their way in: this is very tight stuff.
For people looking for something with a different flavor, something which will inevitably come across to most as "some white guy from England rapping with a strong Cockney accent," you couldn't really do much worse than The Streets. But then again, if it's just the novelty you're after, Original Pirate Material would likely wear out its welcome within a few weeks at most.
If, instead, your interests lie in beats that make you want to "dance around like a crazy monkey" (my girlfriend's words, not mine) and rhymes with an amazing amount of depth (when you really listen), a trip to the record shop may be in store. 06-Jan-2003 9:00 PM