The Streets Keep It Interesting - Rolling Stone
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The Streets Keep It Interesting

The drugged-out, thugged-out world of Mike Skinner

British hip-hop isn’t an oxymoron anymore. Thanks to a
twenty-three-year-old London MC named Mike Skinner, a.k.a. the
Streets, the life of industrial England now resonates in the same
way as that of, say, Queens or South Central. Which wasn’t really
the plan. “I’m surprised how many people, besides people from my
city, get into it,” Skinner says of his debut, Original Pirate
. “Even people in England say, ‘Why do we want to hear
about ourselves?’ “

Material presents Skinner’s streets as a mosaic of drunken
louts, stoned PlayStation addicts and urban turmoil. He delivers
the gritty details in a story-driven, first-person narrative that
recalls the best work of another white inner-city kid, Eminem,
while incorporating enough garage and dub beats to satisfy the rave
culture. And in that cheeky British way, it’s pretty much a huge

“Life isn’t that interesting,” he says unapologetically. “So I’d
rather lie or make something up interesting in my head.” The
soft-spoken rapper spent most of his childhood in London and
Birmingham standing behind fast-food counters. A lost year in
Australia, a few broken hearts and a mushroom binge in Amsterdam
inspired some of Material’s more truthful tales of excess, but for
the most part Skinner prefers his local pub and general

A recent backstage run-in with Blur/Gorillaz singer Damon Albarn
only confirmed Skinner’s desire to keep things mundane. “I didn’t
really know who he was,” Skinner says. “He was just like, ‘Welcome
to being famous’ or something. . . . I was just like, ‘Oh, shut up,
you pansy.’ He seems all right, but he’s just a different kind of
person from me. I kinda get on the train and go see my girlfriend
and get on with makin’ the music.”


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