"Never Went To Church"

The Streets
6 septiembre 2011 Ciclo Ibiza Rock
Fotos Isabel Flores - La Skimal



Ibiza Verano 2008
Fotos: Isabel Flores - La Skimal - IndyRock

Primavera Sound 2003
Fiesta de presentacion 22-05-03 Sala Apolo, Barcelona
Fotos: MarceRock - Indyrock

"Original Pirate Material" es uno de los debuts más sorprendentes y abrumadores del último lustro. Mike Skinner, es decir The Streets, ha conseguido reflejar como nadie al geezer británico de clase media: playstation, cervezas, chicas y chulería se plasman en clásicos instantáneos como "Weak Become Heroes" o "Let´s Push Things Forward". Hip hop, uk garage y ecos de Madness y Blur cimentan el sonido de este joven productor que ha conseguido situar su último trabajo en lo más alto de las listas de la prensa musical mundial.
THE STREETS  publican el 11 de abril  "The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living,  el esperado regreso del rapero más famoso de toda Inglaterra, Mike Skinner.  Oculto tras el nombre de The Streets edita este tercer trabajo tras el éxito obtenido con "A Grand Don't Come for Free". Más de 3 millones de discos vendidos e innumerables premios internacionales reconocieron este trabajo como uno de los discos de hip-hop más sorprendentes de los últimos años.
Tal y como ha reconocido el propio Skinner desde que comenzara a escribir este tercer album en lo unico que pensaba era en dejar con la boca abierta a todos los britanicos sabiendo que para ello solo tenia que contar la verdad de lo que habia vivido estos últimos años.En "When You Wasn't Famous", primer single de este nuevo álbum, explica claramente que su vida no ha sido nada facil desde que saltara a la fama. 11 temas repletos de sarcasmo en los que Skinner habla sin tapujos de drogas, sexo y alcohol que rodea a la sociedad actual. Sin duda este tercer álbum dara mucho que hablar.www.warnermusic.com / 

"The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living "
CD: 11/04/06

"As difficult as it was", says Mike Skinner, of writing the third Streets album which is about to make jaws drop all over Britain, "I knew the most entertaining thing I could do was to tell the truth. Compared to the reality, any fiction I could come up with would seem very mundane: I'd never dare invent anything that crazy, because I wouldn't think anyone would believe it".

Two years ago, The Streets' second album A Grand Don't Come For Free seemed to emerge out of nowhere. Yes, Mike Skinner's Mercury Prize-nominated debut Original Pirate Material had established him as a witty and original MC-ing proposition - a motor-mouthed phoenix from the ashes of the UK garage scene. But this new record was something completely different.

A concept album, a hip-hopera, whatever you wanted to call it, it took things to a completely different level for The Streets (Three million copies sold, a number one single and album, multiple Brit and Ivor Novello awards). It also gave a totally authentic but superbly artful voice to the real middle England - the middle England not of warm beer and cricket, but Barratt Homes and Bacardi Breezers.

In the first few months of 2006, you could see A Grand Don't Come For Free's influence everywhere. From the obvious, in-your-face places, like the artwork on the Arctic Monkeys' record-breaking debut album (which might be the I-Pod photo-store of a long-lost Sheffield-based branch of the Skinner family), to more unexpected, subliminal arenas, such as Chantelle's triumph on Celebrity Big Brother (So the BB production team raised their game with a naïvely compelling narrative about someone who wasn't famous - Hmmm, I wonder where they got that idea from?).

But what has the man himself been up to? That disappearing act at the 2005 Brit Awards we know about (Everything was going according to plan, but then, just as the time came to pick up his best album gong, Mike Skinner - like T.S.Eliot's cat MacCavity - wasn't there). Then there was the Beats label, which brought through silver-tongued protégés The Mitchell Brothers with their underrated, Skinner-produced debut (which might have easily turned out to be the third Streets album, if the wind of fate had blown in a different direction). Then there was the six-figure Reebok advertising deal. And if you read the red-tops, you might have picked up rumours of the odd gambling incident. But no amount of advance build-up could prepare you for what The Streets has in store for us.

Perhaps the most action-packed thirty-seven minutes in the history of pop - or rap, or rock and roll come to that - The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living is nothing short of a voyage to the heart of celebrity darkness. No other record - not Eminem's Marshall Mathers album, not Kings Of Leon's Aha Shake Heartbreak, not even Pulp's This Is Hardcore - has got this close to the sheer madness of life in fame's fast lane. And Skinner's hectic sagas of excess and personal disarray are set to tunes you'll wake up singing every morning for a week after you first hear them. Even though you'll have to be careful who you repeat the lyrics in front of.

The album starts and ends with a drug and alcohol inspired panic attack. So what else happens? Let's see. Getting a smack in the face from his manager after having a tantrum about getting beaten at table-football. Check. Losing hundreds of thousands of pounds spread-betting. Check. Driving a Ferrari round Las Vegas without a license. Check. Watching the unnamed female pop star he'd been taking crack cocaine and having sex with the night before looking surprisingly presentable on CD-UK the next morning. Check.

If Mike Skinner isn't worried about how much trouble these songs are likely to get him into, he probably ought to be. That last scenario in particular - sketched out in loving detail over the infectious Brazilian party rhythm of the first single, 'When You Wasn't Famous' - threatens to set off a tabloid feeding frenzy which will make the whole Ulrika Jonsson/John Leslie thing look like a storm in a tea-cup.

 But Skinner, battle-hardened by the last two years of trial by tabloid, has clearly decided that attack is the best form of defence. "Me writing the scandals on my own album has got to be better than someone else getting it wrong in the papers", he explains. "If you just put all the worst things that happened out there, all they can do is repeat what you've said".

Before we go any further, a little bit of background is probably called for. In the spring of 2004, just as 'Fit But You Know It' was about to launch him into the pop stratosphere, Mike Skinner's dad died.

As he struggled to come to terms with this bereavement -"Some people say I'm still in denial about it", Mike says sadly, two years on - he suddenly found himself in a world where no-one would say no to him. Swept further and further away from his moorings on the flood-tide of success, he wound up - in the late summer of 2004 - all at sea onstage in Amsterdam, having a crazy tantrum about people in the crowd wearing "fake" Streets hats, which turned out to be official merchandise commissioned by his Dutch record company.

To trade in that holed-and-listing-badly ocean-going analogy for the trusty train-wreck, Mike Skinner had not so much gone off the rails as through the buffers, down the embankment and out the other side of the shopping centre. Among many other things, The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living is the story of how he got back on track. Using his special talent for combining beats and rhymes to make sense of what had happened to him, he poured everything he'd learnt into his music. In production terms, he's totally upped his game on this album. Everything is a little crisper and a little faster - honed and polished to be the perfect vehicle for his trademark forensic lyrical observations.

 "When you start to get recognised at a certain level", Mike explains, "everyone begins to behave really differently around you. And it's like you've been given these x-ray specs which help you see your own and everyone else's flaws much too clearly. And you come out of it thinking 'We're all fucked!. We're all doomed!' But in a way that ultimately gives you a new lease of passion for humanity, which isn't the naivety that you had before, it's more like 'everyone's a cunt, but I love 'em'". From such hard-won wisdom as "the best way to double your money is to fold it over and put it in your pocket" to some of the most horribly jaundiced dating advice you'll ever hear in your life, The Hardest Way To Make A Living uses the same story-telling skills as A Grand Don't Come For Free to tell a far darker and disturbing tale.

Mike Skinner has followed up a sweetly brilliant album about the sort of thing that might happen to him if he wasn't famous, with a viciously brilliant album about the sort of things that have happened to him now he is. And just in case anyone out there is worried that The Streets might have lost touch with his roots - yes, that really is Mike's own Rolls Royce on the album cover.

Even as the new generation of social-realist popsters weaned at The Streets' teat (from Arctic Monkeys at the top of the evolutionary ladder, to Hard-Fi and The Ordinary Boys a little further down) gradually download Mike's vision of everyday life to their respective hard-drives, Skinner himself has gone fearlessly upmarket. Casual sportswear is out, and deerstalkers are in. "We're very much pushing the Miami Vice theme this time around", Mike grins. "The keynote look is the suit-jacket with rolled-up sleeves and a lot of tropical palm trees painted bright orange - the whole campaign will have a flavour of that"

The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living
Track By Track

Pranging Out
The most infernally catchy pop song ever to begin with the words "I get back off tour and suddenly it doesn't seem so much fun to be off my face at quarter to eleven AM". In which brandy, bruises, nose-bleeds, suicidal paranoia and crack cocaine are not a recipe for good housekeeping: "The iron has been on in my house for four fucking weeks".

War Of The Sexes
This nightmare vision of a world in which women are cunning predators and "Men just hanker for panky to happen" was partly inspired by The Game - Neil Strauss' bleakly hilarious expose of the tragic world of the pick-up artist. There's a little bit of Chris Morris' Nathan Barley in there as well. And the grimiest beat this side of Dizzee Rascal's washing basket. "Well weapon" indeed.

The Hardest Way To Make An Easy To Living
Like Lionel Bart's Oliver! with additional whistling bits by Ennio Morricone, this is everything you always wanted to know about the music business but were afraid to ask. Also features Mike's invaluable tip on how to make a small fortune spread-betting ("Start with a big fortune, and lose it till it's a small fortune").

All Goes Out The Window
The first of the album's two great anti-ballads. Like Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You", only in reverse.
"Men are pretty shit sometimes, really", Mike adds philosophically, "and I don't want to be that shit".

Memento Mori
In which Mike gives new meaning to the words 'Latin hip-hop' with the help of a phrase he saw in a museum and the once-heard-never-forgotten chorus "Memento Mori/Memento Mori/It's Latin and it means/We must all die.
Linguistic note: "It's should actually be memento mori" Mike admits, pronouncing the mori to rhyme with 'tory' rather than 'sore eye', as he does in the song, "but the only way I could make it fit the rhyme was to pronounce it wrong. so that's a little bit of poetic licence for you".

Can't Con An Honest John
A very complicated con-trick involving a "red-eared hunting spaniel" is outlined at breakneck speed over an immense, darkside 'Ardkore-style sub-bass. "That's the most successful con in the world" says Skinner, who has at least got some useful new slang out of his gambling habit, alongside a pocketful of unsuccessful betting slips, "All the most revered con artists in the world say so".

When You Wasn't Famous
The album's first single heralds the post Moss and Doherty epoch with a ringing declaration: "The thing that's got it all fucked up now is camera phones - how the hell am I supposed to be able to do a line in front of complete strangers when they've all got cameras?" Mike's manager says "Stop fucking pop stars Michael. there are industry repercussions". Mike says "It's a romantic gesture". Oh yes, and that funky Brazilian drum is called a 'cuica'.

Never Went To Church
With this poignant meditation on loss and mourning (surely a great Christmas single in waiting), Mike Skinner invents another new genre - the anti-clerical dad ballad. It starts off a bit lairy: "Two great European narcotics - alcohol and Christianity", Mike observes, "I know which one I'd prefer", but just when getting a gospel choir to sing a song about not being religious is starting to seem a bit cheeky, you realise that this is actually a strange kind of hymn to old-fashioned self-reliance and muddling through. Having never gone to church when life was going well for him, Skinner decides that he hasn't earned the right to the consolations organised religion might offer him now everything's gone pear-shaped.

Hotel Expressionism
A beat which Mission Impossible soundtrack overlord Lalo Schiffrin would have been proud of accompanies an eloquent exposition of the etiquette of on-tour misbehaviour. And remember: "Throwing a TV out of the window is nothing clear of weak cliché".

Two Nations
This deliciously acute analysis of the Trans-Atlantic divide ("Two nations divided by a common language/and about two hundred years of new songs and dances") was originally recorded for the Biggie Smalls duets album. Perhaps Puff Daddy's decision not to include it on the finished disc can be explained with reference to Mike Skinner opting to remind him that "we were the ones who invented the language".

Fake Streets Hats
The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living ends just before it began, with a raddled-sounding Mike losing his rag on stage in Holland. "It's not so much about any particular event", Skinner explains, "as the physicality of being mentally and emotionally destroyed to the extent that you're simply not capable of feeling happy or being a nice person. What I'm really proud of", he adds, with an infectious grin, "is that I've got the whole thing on video, and one day I'm going to release it".

Mike Skinner - additional quote sheet
On that Rolls Royce
"It's a 1974-5 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow mk 1, and it was in a bit of a state when I got it. It's taken over a year to rebuild. It was real Pimp My Ride stuff - the actual cost of the car was less than a tenth of the customisation, in fact the stereo is worth four times more than the car was. I don't know what I'm going to do with it when it's finally finished though - it's in Ipswich at the moment. I had it out last Friday, but I was too scared to touch it".

On conspicuous consumption
"The tightrope I think that this album walks on is that I'm expressing realities that a lot of people probably don't want to hear. For instance, everyone would love to think that money doesn't matter. I can honestly say I'm not materialistic, in the sense that when I didn't have money, all I wanted to do was make music. And even now, if it wasn't there it wouldn't matter. But if I have got a big pile of money, then the moment I switch the laptop OFF, I'll be like 'shall I buy a car'?"

On losing the plot onstage in Amsterdam
"We were walking round the festival after we came off stage, looking for drugs, and people were coming up to me and going 'You're a wanker, that was worst gig I've ever seen'. Normally you can do a crap gig, but no-one will tell you. We came off looking like Liam Gallagher on a bad day".

On gunfire at the Brixton Academy:
"I played it down a bit in the song ['Two Nations'], but I was actually at that Nas gig in Brixton last year where someone started firing a gun. It was just behind me that it happened and everyone rushed out through the side door, but because I had this pass I was kind of hanging around backstage and Nas was there, standing in the corridor with his security guy - and he asked what the fuck was going on. I said 'Don't worry, they're only blanks'. Now Nas was a big idol of mine when I was a kid, and I'm quite happy that those are the only words I've ever said to him".

On "that whole poet/cunt thing"
"I do have a respect for poets I didn't have before. but only because the best ones think that most other poets are cunts as well."

THE STREETS, publica,  'Everything Is Borrowed' en 2008
Después de su aclamado y honesto álbum 'The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Livin' en 2006, ahora THE STREETS (o lo que es lo mismo, Mike Skinner) sorprende gratamente con 'Everything Is Borrowed', un disco moldeable a nuevos sonidos con abundante cinismo y crítica a la sociedad actual. Mike Skinner es un músico liberado de complejos como celebridad. Después de cuatro discos THE STREETS vive el momento de saborear ese emocionante estrés de una vida recién descubierta. Las historias que narra 'Everything Is Borrowed' nacen como crónicas de un periódico, como guiones de cine, como vivencias diarias y se van transformando en canciones Rap, con irresistibles arreglos Pop y ante todo, un claro reflejo del emergente Garage/Hip-Hop que se escucha en cualquier barrio. 

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