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A Grand Don't Come for Free (Bonus Track Version)

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Editors’ Notes

"Concept album" may be too pretentious a name for Brit hip-hopper Mike Skinner's off-handedly brilliant sophomore effort A Grand Don't Come For Free. But these 11 tracks have a narrative flow all the more irresistible because it's so mundane. Loserish stoner 'Mike' gets girl, loses girl, misplaces 1000 pounds, then finds it again, amid everyday minutiae like broken appliances, bad drug experiences, and a blown football bet. Backed by simple and mechanical DIY beats, Skinner's Brummie/Cockney-laced rhymes stutter along high and sometimes awkward in the mix, closer to old-fashioned storytelling than what we think of as rap. Musical flourishes are all the more striking amid the general sparseness: The grandiose horns of "It Was Supposed To Be So Easy," and the Blur-ish guitars of the lad anthem "Fit and You Know It." The eight-minute closing epic "Empty Cans" hits like a hurricane, its snarling, stabbing drumbeats giving way to piano in a stunning and redemptive turnaround. You might not be able to dance to most of this, but A Grand isn't background music; it deserves close attention the way a great book demands to be read.

Customer Reviews

Creative, witty, and delightfully awkward

The entire album tells a story in witty, creative rhymes and simple garage beats. The rhymes seem to be forced and awkward at times which somehow adds to the character of reality in the album. It seems more authentic than stuff like Eminem. It is not even accurate to call The Streets the "British Eminem" since Eminem is far more caustic, more glitzy and polished, and represents glossed over big-label hype and not simple creativity. "A Grand..." is better than the first album, "Original Pirate Material."

"don't touch me, don't touch me"

Brit wit meets hip-hop. Very listenable, even though his flow is a little tight or maybe just awkward at times. Blinded By the Lights is a stand-out. Once heard he's considered the British Eminem- bad assessment. He's much more subtle and eloquent, but still a good lyricist.

I LIKE MIKE

No, he's not the first storyteller in rap. He's not even the first British rap storyteller; that would be Slick Rick. But where Slick Rick told short stories, Mike Skinner creates a novel. I'm reminded of James Joyce's artistic ambition to take the bread of everyday life and turn it into something sacred. Skinner similarly consecrates everything in his wonderfully quirky world, turning the banal into the poetic, a bad night into a priceless experience, a lovable loser into a working class hero. If you can't afford to download the whole thing, "Dry Your Eyes" is a gorgeous Wyclef Jean-type ballad, and "Fit But You Know It" is the centerpiece, with its wild pub crawl through a UK city. But do get the whole CD eventually, so you can immerse yourself in this singular story and lucidly observed world. By album's end, you've heard --and felt-- the full spectrum of human emotions.

Biography

Born: November 27, 1978 in Birmingham, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Mike Skinner's recordings as the Streets marked the first attempt to add a degree of social commentary to Britain's party-hearty garage/2-step (and later grime) movement. Skinner, a Birmingham native who later ventured to the capital, was an outsider in the garage scene, though his initial recordings appeared on Locked On, the premiere source for speed garage and, later, 2-step from 1998 to the end of the millennium. He spent time growing up in North London as well as Birmingham, and listened first...
Full Bio
A Grand Don't Come for Free (Bonus Track Version), The Streets
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Hip-Hop/Rap, Music, Dance, House, Rap
  • Released: May 10, 2004

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