The Streets A Grand Don't Come For Free

It’s unfortunate that Mike Skinner’s (aka the Streets) Mercury Prize-nominated debut, Original Pirate Material, didn’t gain the massive recognition in North America as it did across the pond, because, apart from the obvious vernacular difficulties, his indefinable rhymes are truly universal. Skinner is the the Champion of the Geezer, a conduit of the quotidian, unabashedly documenting the hurdles that keep us from profound achievements, such as, say, getting out of bed or returning a DVD rental. And on A Grand Don’t Come For Free, he seems impossibly more confident, wiser and talented. His testosterone-soaked world of bookies, lager and "pulling birds” gets mitigated by softer tracks like "Could Well Be In” and "Dry Your Eyes,” which see him contemplating prospective love and failed relationships. Elsewhere, Skinner’s rhymes seem like brilliant exercises in blame-avoidance; the kind of ignorant devolvement of culpability that we’re all guilty of. On girls: "It’s you that’s being selfish/It’s you that don’t give a shit.” On betting: "He’s not addicted/he can stop anytime.” On drinking, "Can you rely on anyone in this world? No you can’t/It’s not my fault there’s wall-to-wall cans.” And yes, underneath it all are beats and samples that make you want to consume a surfeit of alcohol, sidle up to the opposite sex on a dance floor and make the same mistakes all over again. (Vice)