Mike Skinner aka the man behind ‘The Streets’ has announced that his fifth album ‘Computers and Blues’ will be his last. Skinner announced the end of his alias by placing a ‘closed’ sign on ‘The Streets official website on February 7th. In an interview with the Guardian, Skinner said: “‘I’ve been doing it for 10 years and I’ve always tried to do something different with each album. I’ve run out of avenues.”
It’s not hard to see where Skinner is coming from. When ‘The Streets’ first arrived on the scene with the brilliant album ‘Original Pirate Material’ in 2002, there was something fresh about Skinners spoken social commentary over home-made garage influenced beats. It gave British rap a new voice, with the album focusing on modern day British youth with all the references to PlayStations, drug taking and lad’s being out on the piss.
Skinner followed up his debut with ‘A Grand Don’t Come for Free’ which still had the similar production and subject matter; however it was a concept album. This album made the Streets public property, spawning the number one single ‘Dry Your Eyes’ however Skinner still managed to remain a credible artist and the album received massive critical acclaim.
The Streets third and fourth albums subject matter explored Skinners new fame and the aftermath of it. Skinner moved away from what had made the Streets so fresh sounding in the first place by going down a more commercial route in terms of sound and subject matter. The two albums ‘The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living’ (2006) and ‘Everything is Borrowed’ (2008) did not receive the same critical acclaim as the previous albums and it created the question: had Skinner taken the Streets as far as it could go?
The final album has already received good critical acclaim after its release on February 7th, being compared as a return to form by Skinner that he hadn’t captured since the release of ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free.’ There’s no denying the influence the Streets has had on urban music, and to put it bluntly Skinner should be remembered as a young man from Birmingham who produced music that brilliantly captured British youth in the decade just passed.