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The English Beat

Meet Brixton-bred rapper Mike Skinner, also known as "The Streets" (just don't call him the British Eminem).

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Hi, his name is . . . :

At 23, D.J. and production wunderkind Mike Skinner has created an album that captures the state of youth culture in the UK with the vividness of the Clash's debut or Trainspotting, all set to "two-step garage" (a UK-bred genre that melds drum and bass and soulful house).

Great white hope:

Like Eminem, Skinner is an impossibly witty white emcee ("We met through a shared view / She loved me and I did, too"). He's also an innovative producer who utilizes outré rhythms and samples.

Basement tapes:

Original Pirate Material was produced entirely in Skinner's Brixton flat. This is typical two-step: Many producers use downloadable "studio" programs or even PlayStation's beat-making software.

Story to tell:

Skinner is a compelling narrator with an eye for detail. "Weak Become Heroes" (about his first ecstasy experience) is the best, most honest song about E culture since Pulp's "Sorted for E's and Wizz."

Language barrier:

Chock-full of street slang delivered in a thick brogue, Original Pirate Material can be as difficult to get through as A Clockwork Orange. Among the Skinnerisms: less 'ave it (let's have a good time), chase brown (do heroin), and show him you're a man football-fan-style (bring psychotic rage to a street fight).

Original Pirate Material
(Vice Records; October 22).


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