it's the shiznit

news, reviews and banter on r'n'b, hiphop, garage, grime, bassline, soul, electro and house. standard.

The Streets - The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, May 01, 2006
Mike Skinner’s a bit like a son to us. We’ve seen him grow from the everyman around the way guy to his face been plastered on every billboard and bus going. The journeys been an emotional one, but is it coming to an end with his third album? The chronicles of life in the public eye that is The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living.

Gone are the tales of boozy nights down the pub, late night kebabs and urban decay, the tales, which we enjoyed so much and were so different to the high life the modern US rapper told us about on a daily MTV basis.

In come the dilemmas faced with running your own record label on the title track, and the which girl on CD:UK was it? lead single When You Wasn’t Famous. The latter still applies his usual comedic street poet delivery to the episode of trying to pull and similar to the holiday anthem that was Fit But You Know It. If you feel that the rest of the album lacks more of these witty numbers, it’s something that was going to happen eventually.

Although you want to hear more of it, eventually you’re going to get bored if Original Pirate Material was just re-packaged over and over again. The Hardest Way…is equivalent to an artist’s sophomore set, where they have to deal with the task of producing an album over a year or two to better the album that took their whole life to put together. The second album merely delayed this crossroads. The concept narrative of A Grand Don’t Come For Free had the likes of Blinded By The Lights and Fit But You Know It, but it was the massive radio hit Dry Your Eyes that opened Skinner up to a new audience and his underground appeal would be lost forever. We perhaps should have seen it coming and not been so surprised.

But if this all sounds too negative it’s not meant to be, as The Hardest Way… is still a very enjoyable album. The style hasn’t changed, but our protagonist’s surroundings have. Now living the life many crave, from getting girls on tap to living the rock star life (the funky Hotel Expressionalism) all’s not content with his surroundings. Complaining as much about spending money on a promo video (title track), as he would having insufficient funds.

Something that Skinner doesn’t get much credit with is his production skill. His under-rated beats still contain a raw sound with his own blend of funk, none more so than on Can’t Con An Honest John. Not a particularly favourite moment but one we come to expect since Dry Your Eyes is the slow grime ballad of All Goes Out The Window, a little better is Two Nations. Another slow moment is the reflective Never Went To Church that is about his father who passed away last year.

The opener Prangin Out and the last number Fake Streets Hats give you the idea that Skinner doesn’t like the idea of this fame lark too much, and it will have many wondering how one can complain about the price of fame when they’re listening to this album after a hard day at the office or building site, easily willing to change places at a flash. But then if he were complaining about sitting in queues or scrapping money together for a pint we’d all be mentioning that old Hip-Hop adage of not keeping it real.

At first listen you may feel a little disappointed, but give it time and you’ll realise this is still another great Streets album, you’ve just got to realise that the kids moved on now and you have to grow with him.


Post a Comment


Recent Posts