There’s been a huge wave of UK artists crossing over to American success lately. Amy Winehouse, Duffy, Estelle and Adele have all had a degree of success on these shores, although not commensurate with their overwhelming success in their homeland. A British artist that I’ve been enamored with for quite some time is Mike Skinner AKA The Streets. For lack of a better description, Skinner’s a rap artist. However, unlike most British emcees, who seem to be trying their best to sound American, Skinner’s music is decidedly British…and even if he were to try to Americanize his sound, there’s no way in hell he’d be able to cross over with that impenetrable accent. Nevertheless, Skinner’s built up a cult following over the course of four albums-each of which has something worth recommending on it.
Over time, Skinner has also adjusted his world view. While his first album, Original Pirate Material,was the story of an everyday guy going through everyday paces, his second album, A Grand Don’t Come for Free, was the story of a kid who suddenly made something of himself and wasn’t quite sure what to do about it. Third album The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living pointed out some of the vapidity of celebrity (while simultaneously revelling in it), while Skinner’s fourth effort, Everything is Borrowed, presents a mature man, looking at the world in front of him and trying to make sense of it. This maturation from album to album has been extremely rewarding, and Borrowed turns out to be yet another fine effort from Skinner.