Today I want to plug Mike Skinner, better known as The Streets. The British rapper has used the moniker since 2000 and has released 4 albums, with one more to go.
The Streets debut album, Original Pirate Material was released in 2002 with the standout track "Let's Push Things Forward:"
In 2004, the Streets released one of my favorite recrods, hip-hop or otherwise. A Grand Don't Come for Free is a concept record that focuses equally on the big events and the mundane thoughts of an everyman in England.
From the Pitchfork review: "On A Grand Don't Come for Free...Mike Skinner audaciously weaves an 11-track narrative over an often bare and inert musical backdrop, one that acts more like a film score than the foundation of a pop record. The plot is pretty bare-bones: boy loses money, boy meets girl, boy loses girl. But by focusing as much on the minutiae of life as on its grand gestures, the impact of Skinner's album-- essentially a musical update of 'The Parable of the Lost Coin' peppered with Seinfeld's quotidian anxiety and, eventually, a philosophical examination of Skinner's lifestyle and personal relationships-- transcends its seemingly simple tale."
A Grand is by far my favorite The Streets album. His third album, The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living, focused more on his thoughts on fame, and while solid (and giving us a fun first single about celebrity dating with "When You Wasn't Famous"), it didn't resonate as much. Same story with his fourth album Everything Is Borrowed. Skinner has announced that the next The Streets album, 2010's Computers and Blues, will also be the last under the Streets moniker. He has been tweeting tracks that may or may not be on the album since April.
Stream: A Grand Don't Come for Free