Original Pirate Material – The Streets (2002)

Verdict – 9.3

The debut album by English rapper/producer Mike Skinner, revolutionized the UK garage genre by combining the garage sound with lyrics detailing the everyday, menial lifestyle of the underground. In doing so, it becomes almost impossible to not find relatable lyrics within the album. Whether you live the lifestyle depicted, or have never been a part of youth culture, you will be hard pressed to not get caught up in the humour, contemplations and general awkwardness found in this charming and infectious album.

Turn the Page along with, Has It Come to This?, showcases The Streets at their lyrical best, with so many potent one-liners accompanied by an encompassing feel of arrogance (I produced this with only my bare wit, give me a jungle, a garage beat and admit defeat). Don’t Mug Yourself, is one of the album’s lighter moments, as we listen in on as Skinner argues with his mates about his denial in being whipped (Oi, do you really think I act whack? Cause I’m telling you I’m serving the aces and it’s game, set and match). In the album’s best track, Weak Become Heroes, we are listeners as he reminisces about his first experiences with E and how it makes you feel (as the title suggests).

With a large part of the album being recorded on a laptop within an emptied-out wardrobe in his mum’s house, you have to commend Skinner’s flair in production, deftly using percussive, repetitive beats. There is no doubting Skinner has a talent for producing sharp hip hop hooks, and although his lyrics aren’t life affirming, he has a certain eloquence that you can only admire. In Original Pirate Material, we have an album that will remain timeless, and will be just as relevant to urban youth culture many years from now. “Cult classic, not best seller”, he says. I’d have to agree.

Top Songs – Has It Come to This?, Don’t Mug Yourself, Weak Become Heroes


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