‘Think I’m Ghetto Stop Dreaming’ – The Streets : A Retrospective

A few festival appearances over the next couple of months will bring down the curtain on the musical career of Mike Skinner as we know it, for the Streets it is all over bar the shouting.

In the musical landscape of the new millennium where instant success is demanded and bands are dropped with alarming regularity few have matched The Streets’ longevity and even fewer the continued quality of his output.

Emerging from the UK Garage scene of the late 90’s/ early 2000’s which blurred the boundaries between house, hip hop and drum and bass, The Streets long outlived contemporaries in the genre by continually evolving (from the geezer in search of excitement on ‘Original Pirate Material’ through to the reflective man fast approaching 30 on ‘Everything is Borrowed’) whilst having his finger on the zeitgeist, and maintaining the Kinks-esque knack of writing songs about Britain and everyday life. From the buzz of youthful experimentation with illegal substances on ‘Weak Become Heroes’ to the death of a loved one on ‘Never Went To Church’ Skinner’s best work deals with a broad spectrum of subjects which the listener can relate to.

This reached it’s peak on 2004’s ‘A Grand Don’t Come for Free’, he became the bard for young men up and down the country, soundtracking their lives, dressing like them, living like them, splitting up with birds, trying to pull other birds on islands in the sun, whilst the albums number 1 single, ‘Dry Your Eye’s Mate’ becoming the soundtrack to another unsuccessful tournament for the England football team.

It’s follow up ‘The Hardest Way To Make an Easy’ dealt with the fallout of becoming a celebrity, from sleeping with famous girls ‘When You Wasn’t Famous’ to the come down from drug binges on the records stand out track ‘Prangin’Out’ which featured former Libertine Pete Doherty. It is easy to see this album as The Streets’ ‘Be Here Now’ the excess of drugs are smeared across the album like the remnants of a line on the back of the CD, and what else could explain the orange suit he took to wearing at the time. However, unlike Oasis, the album that followed marked a change in direction, from brash and lairy to introspective and contemplative. Skinner described ‘Everything is Borrowed’ as a “peaceful coming to terms album” compared to “guilt-ridden indulgence” of its predecessor.  Released to mix reviews and the less commercial success than any of his previous albums, it is nevertheless a striking work.

After releasing songs via twitter following ‘Everything is Borrowed’ 2011 saw the release of his final album ‘Computers and Blues’.  Seen by many as a return to form, second single ‘Trust Me’ is up there with his finest work. The protaganist of the first two records is back, if somewhat wiser and a little less lairy, and with it being the last album it seems apt that The Streets has gone full circle.

Here’s five great records by The Streets.

Weak Become Heroes

It’s Too Late

Blinded By The Lights

Prangin Out Ft. Pete Doherty

Trust Me

By Callum West


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