If there is one thing that truly burns my ass, it’s most assuredly the tabloid mentality. So many people, on both sides of the pond, live by the idea that everybody is supposed to care about the lives and loves of worthless celebrities. Even if you don’t care or even go out of your way in order to try not to pay attention, you still hear about it. You can’t even go to a supermarket to buy your groceries or get a pack of smokes at 7-11 without seeing all theses rags and their headlines about what’s going on in celeb world. With so much horrible shit going on in the world these days, it’s amazing that there are still people who care about Jessica and Nick’s separation, Britney Spears’ eating-for-two and then some ass, J-Lo’s purses, Brad and Angelina, Lindsay Lohan’s fuck up of a father, crazy Tom Cruise and his L. Ron Hubbard-inspired bouts of lunacy, who’s giving Jennifer Aniston a hot beef injection this week, how much man juice Paris Hilton coughs up (as seen on South Park) and who is wearing what to which awards show. The litany goes on and on. What’s worse is when these celebs complain about how much of a burden they have to live with. But the Streets (aka Mike Skinner) gets a pass, because, unlike the above-mentioned personalities, he has talent.
Skinner broke out on the scene in late ’02 with his groundbreaking debut Original Pirate Material as he rhymed about being a geezer (the British word for “average Joe”) growing up in England. In ’04 the ho-hum A Grand Don’t Come for Free was released, in which listeners were given a day in the life of Skinner, as he ran all over town and got himself into predicaments in order to find 1000 quid. Now Skinner has bounced back with Hardest Way to show us the pressures of being a musician as well as a figure in the public eye—one whose existence is meaningful, mind you.
The opener “Prangin Out” is a bumping yarn about a whole lot of shit spiraling out of control while tooting lots of blow. Meanwhile, “War of the Sexes” is like the one or two tracks on just about every Streets containing subject matter that deals with the head games that boys and girls play with each other.
If you still rep the Alpine in your trunk, the deepwater bass of the title track will get that shit shakin’ while numbers like “All Goes Out the Window” and “Never Went to Church” exhibit Skinner’s frequent method of speaking in monograph tones over the beats. Yet his vocals can feel a tad overshadowed by the mushy beats, at times. Not to worry, because heads will be bobbing once more with the loopy island vibe of “Memento Mori.”
“When You Wasn’t Famous” revolves around the effort that goes into trying to nail a famous broad and “Can’t Con an Honest John” is an overall sizzling club banger. By the time the album is in its waning minutes, the listener can’t help but notice that Skinner doesn’t say “oy” like he does on his previous full lengths. With or without the monosyllabic yelp, Hardest Way is the definitive good time party album in Skinner’s catalogue. And that it clocks in at 37 minutes makes it even swankier, because it lacks the filler.
Audio Bullys – Ego War
Goldie Lookin Chain – Straight Outta Newport
Bump & Flex – Rewind EP