Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Kickin' it in the Streets

(Really, its like I'm deliberatly trying to come up with blog titles that are even dumber then the names of some of the bands I listen to. Anyhow...)

My wife and I went camping over the weekend on the Washington pennisula over the weekend, which is why there hasn't been any Blog entries in a few days. One of the side effect of going on a road trip is that we end up listening to one of about a dozen CDs in our car a whole bunch. This time out, it was Violent Femmes (who apparently, according to Rhapsody, are "New Folk"), Wyclef Jean and Broken Social Scene. And, the Streets' A Grand Don't Come For Free.

Now, Mike Skinner (aka the Streets) seems to be a fairly divisive artist in the Hip Hop community. Either you enjoy his unique tales, unconventional approach and uniquely British delivery or you find him, well, just annoying.

It probably goes without saying that I'm in the former catagory. And I find A Grand Don't Come For Free to be a near perfect album. And one of the the few successful "concept albums" ...a concept (sic) which is usually groan-worthy in and of itself.

His first album, Original Pirate Material, was my first exposure to him and is also a great album. Spunky, original, confident and lo-fi all in one breath, it was the sort of album that when I first heard it, I did a double-take and boggled: "What was that!?" Good stuff.

I'm a little more on the fence about his most recent release, The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living. This is his obligatory "more money, more problems" album; and -as such- I relate to it less. But, at the same time, Mike manages to percolate these dry cliches through his own psyche in a way that them almost seem fresh again. Faced with problems ranging from trying to avoid doing drugs in front of strangers with camera phones who will put the images online, to feeling nervous hitting on celebrity girls, to just gripeing about the U.S.'s audiences reluctance accept him because he's British. These might not be problems that we are faced with, but he still squeezes humor from them with his usual self-defacing style.

So yeah, its still good stuff. The more I listen to it (and I'm listening to it right now), the more I enjoy it.

The Street's "A Grand Don't Come For Free"

The Street's "Original Pirate Material"

The Street's "The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living"

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