The Streets

Album Title: A Grand Don't Come for Free
Release Date: May 18, 2004
Genre: Hip Hop
It's another day in the life of a geezer as Mike Skinner aka The Streets unveils the follow-up to his 2002 slowburn debut Original Pirate Material. It's been said that this is a concept album but don't kid yourself, Tommy it ain't. Much like it's predecessor, A Grand is packed with snapshots of British youth circa 2004 but does so with a bit of a softer touch this time out. The difficulties of lad/lass dynamics are discussed in tracks like "Could Well Be In" and "Get Out Of My House" yet any shards of sensitivity are rendered numb amid a haze of narcotic diversion. It's almost as if Skinner wants to pour his heart out but perhaps at the risk of looking like a wanker in front of 'is mates, he opts to hide behind a wall of jagged beats and garage posturing. Just when it looks like Skinner is gonna parse his own jugular by way of his abrasive rhymes, he salvages the effort with "Dry Your Eyes", a strangely-tender ode to getting on with it. A Grand Don't Come for Free is a seriously paradoxical album that is as emotionally draining as it is rewarding. Stick that in your coppers and piss off, now.

Writer: Cameron Gordon

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