I really like this album, and I think it is hip hop, but I don’t really appreciate it as hip hop. It brings something else to the table, something that cancels out his non-existent flow. His lyrics are very good, but not amazing. The beats are great, but not fantastic. I’m having trouble putting my finger on what he’s got that has me so entranced. What do you think?
I reckon his lyrics are fantastic. He gets very poetic at times, such as Turn the Page or Weak Become Heroes and his vocal skills are impressive - not so much his dexterity but what he does with his voice. It sounds like two different performers in The Irony of It All, and I love the “Charlie, darling, this is raving, take me home to my baby” bit in Too Much Brandy.
What makes him so entrancing though, I think, is just how different he sounds. His accent changes things around right from the start, but everything about his music sounds like it’s coming at hip-hop from a completely new direction. There are other great British rappers, but they’re still doing something recogniseably tied to the US scene, for instance Roots Manuva.
The Streets sounds like he’s reinvented the whole genre. The beats are different - garage and dance influenced and they sound nothing like other hip-hop beats. His voice lacks the bravado of a lot of other rappers (even though he does venture into that style at times) and his subject matter is totally fresh. His hip-hop is new and that’s what makes it so exciting and as you said - entrancing.
I agree with you, but you hit a pet peeve of mine. Not every hip hopper who does something differently and gets some sizable shine is reinventing the genre. There have been many emcees who have deliveries similar to The Streets’, and many who are even stranger. He is great, and different, but not revolutionary.
I love this album! I don’t have a clue what makes it so infectious, either, but it is. It’s a bit clanky and sounds like it was produced in someone’s bedroom. But it’s incredibly innovative. Maybe that’s why?
I went to see them in Dublin a few months ago and they really worked live.
jjimm - apparently it was produced in his bedroom.
I’m not so sure. There are three three or four tracks on the album that are genius, where everything works, like “don’t mug yourself” and “too much brandy”, but some of the other tracks are a bit dodgy. I’m thinking in particular of the rhymes on “It’s too late” specifically:
“Now nothing holds significance
And nothing holds relavence
'Cause the only thing I can see is her elegance”
Which to my mind is as clunky as the infamous dance/romance couplet from “Lady in Red”
He has been sensationaly hyped in the UK, and it’s superb to see someone emerging as a new artist in his own right, rather than the latest manufactured pish, but i don’t think he deserves to be the saviour of the entire UK scene.
Gex - it is two voices. All through the album there’s two of them, Mike Skinner, who writes it all and his mate Calvin. Calvin does the singing bits and some of the rapping, particularly on Don’t mug yourself ("Hold it down boy, your head’s getting blurred) and they swap verses on The Irony Of It All - Mike is “Tim” and Calvin is “Terry”.