Disc Review

The Streets are without a doubt an acquired taste.

street disk 88 298 (photo credit: )
street disk 88 298
(photo credit: )
THE STREETS Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living (Hed Arzi) Mike Skinner, aka The Streets, has had enough, and this is no more apparent than on the opening line of "Prangin Out," the opening track on his third album Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living. "Suddenly I get back off tour and it doesn't seem like much fun to be off my face at quarter to 11 AM." Ah yes, the trials and tribulations of being a rock star. We first met Mr. Skinner back in 2002 on his debut release Original Pirate Material, perhaps the world's first British working-class hip hop album. His 2004 follow up, the mindblowing and cinematic, A Grand Don't Come For Free, which chronicled a chaotic day in the life of Mr. Skinner, was universally lauded as one of the UK's best hip hop albums. The biographical material continues on Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living where Skinner chronicles how difficult life can be at the top of the charts and that fame isn't all it's cracked up to be. Now, this type of self-indulgent and self-pitying behavior is usually a major turnoff and I don't usually have much patience for musicians who work all their lives to get noticed, make it big and then complain about it. But I'm willing to let Skinner slide. Honesty has always been his strong point as demonstrated on his earlier biographical releases. His struggles and problems - at least on the surface of his music - seem sincere and are riddled with enough self-aware quips and humor that make them more endearing than annoying. In fact, it's satire wrapped in sincerity. While the recurring theme of most of the tracks involve rock star debauchery, backstage food, destroying hotel rooms, and sleeping with celebrities, Skinner opens up on a surprisingly touching tribute to his late father on "Never Went to Church." The Streets are without a doubt an acquired taste. Skinner raps in a cockney accent, somewhat off the beat and when he does sing (when he's not rapping) he is more often singing off pitch than on. The unforgiving British music press critically lambasted Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living as rock'n'roll clich and below the bar of The Streets' previous works. Of course, they are way off base and are apparently oblivious to the fact that Skinner is completely aware that he has indeed become just another rock'n' roll clich . Skinner's success has always been his honesty and expression in his lyrics and if he feels he has become a living clich then by all means he's going to sing about it.