Original Pirate Material is the debut album by the English rapper and producer Mike Skinner, under the name The Streets. The album is a unique take on UK garage and lyrics dealing with everyday circumstances and occurrences. The album originally rose to #12 on the UK Albums Chart in 2002, and then peaked at #10 in 2004 after the release of the second Streets album A Grand Don't Come for Free. The album has received a large amount of critical acclaim. In March 2003, NME placed Original Pirate Material at number 46 on their list of the "100 Best Albums of All Time". They subsequently placed Original Pirate Material at number 9 in their list of the "100 Best Albums of the Decade". Observer Music Monthly ranked it as the best album of the 00's.
In the United Kingdom, five singles were released from Original Pirate Material: "Has It Come to This?", "Let's Push Things Forward", "Weak Become Heroes", "Don't Mug Yourself" and "The Irony of It All".
It appears that many of those who have faced the challenge of reviewing this album are in agreement that word count is a real bind. There is just too much to say. In fact, a small book could, and probably will, be written examining what The Streets has achieved with the execution of Original Pirate Material.
It could be argued that not since Never Mind The Bollocks... has there been a record that has said as much about being young and living in the UK. Moreover, what makes this album even more remarkable is that it is the work of a one unassuming 22 year old, namely Mike Skinner.
Despite an early passion for hip hop and house Mike was never embroiled in the London's pirate radio scene, in fact he was working in Australia when the UK garage cemented its position in the mainstream. Perhaps it is this cultural and geographical distance that has kept Skinner's musical slate clean and allowed him to forge this unique 'high rise' style. Ska, dub, house, drum and bass, hip hop and UK garage have all been thrown in to The Streets' sampler for processing and rearrangement. When combined with his vocal delivery the results are mesmerising - not quite hip hop, not quite an MC and not quite slam poetry but somewhere in between. He's engaged, enlightened and writes with a degree of insight that is humorous, heart-wrenching, humbling and worthy of so much more than this little review.
By his own admission Original Pirate Material is the "day in the life of a geezer" yet amongst the bitter sweet, inner city anecdotes of drugs, violence, playing computer games, trips to the garage and going clubbing, Mike's best punches are pulled when he is at his most sensitive. In "Weak Become Heroes" he muses "It's easy, no one blames you, it's that world out there that's f**ked!... you're no less of a person and if God exists he still loves you, just remember that". In "Has It Come To This" he announces, "The music's a gift from the man on high, the lord and his children". More of these gems are revealed with successive listens and it is clear as the title in "Let's Push Things Forward" suggests Mike is on a mission.
In the years to come if you're ever asked what it was like being young at the start of the twenty first century you could do a lot worse than dig this album out of your collection provided, of course, you've taken it out of your CD player. Genius. User Comments