The Streets

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This article is about the UK garage group. For other uses, see Streets (disambiguation).
The Streets
Mike Skinner of The Streets live at Parklife, Sydney 2011 02.jpg
Mike Skinner at Parklife, Sydney, October 2011
Background information
Origin Birmingham, England
Genres UK garage, electronica, indie, hip hop, alternative hip hop, hip house[1]
Years active 1994–2011
Labels Locked On/679 Recordings (UK)
Vice/Atlantic Records (US) (2000–2010)
Warner Music (Worldwide)
Associated acts The D.O.T.
Past members Mike Skinner
Johnny Drum Machine
Kevin Mark Trail
Leo the Lion

The Streets were an English hip hop and UK garage project from Birmingham, England,[2] led by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Mike Skinner.

The project has released five studio albums: Original Pirate Material (2002), A Grand Don't Come for Free (2004), The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living (2006), Everything Is Borrowed (2008), Computers and Blues (2011), an internet-only album Cyberspace and Reds (2011) and a string of successful singles in the mid-2000s, including "Has It Come to This?", "Dry Your Eyes", "When You Wasn't Famous" and "Prangin' Out".


1994–2000: Early years[edit]

The Streets started out in 1994 as a solo project. Skinner moved from Birmingham to Brixton to pursue his recording career, he then moved to Camden Town for three years before returning to Brixton. While working on music, he tried to start a record label, as well as working in fast food restaurants in order to support himself.

2001–2003: Original Pirate Material[edit]

In 2001, the Locked On label, who had success with The Artful Dodger featuring Craig David, released "Has It Come to This?" under the name The Streets. "Has It Come to This?" proved to be a breakthrough hit for The Streets, reaching number 18 on the UK charts in October 2001.

For The Streets' debut album, Original Pirate Material, Skinner wanted to take UK garage in a new direction with material reflecting the lifestyle of clubbers in Britain. The track "Let's Push Things Forward" reflects the philosophy of the album. The album was released and proved to be successful both with critics and the general public alike. In the UK, the album was nominated for the Mercury Prize and was favourite with the bookies to win it (it was later won by Ms. Dynamite). The Streets was nominated for best album, best urban act, best breakthrough artist and best British male artist in the 2002 BRIT Awards. The NME named it as one of their top five albums of 2002. The cover image is Towering Inferno by the acclaimed photographer Rut Blees Luxemburg. Subsequent singles from that album included "Don't Mug Yourself", "Weak Become Heroes" and "Let's Push Things Forward" which all reached the top forty in the UK. Many of his songs have a UK garage feel. Original Pirate Material had debuted and peaked at number twelve in the UK album charts, and would not reach any higher until his next album was released.

The success of Original Pirate Material in the UK led to a US release of the album through Vice/Atlantic in late 2002. Though the album was not a commercial success in the States, it was received positively, with Rolling Stone, Spin, The New York Times, Blender, USA Today and the Los Angeles Times all nominating it as one of the albums of the year. The album was named Entertainment Weekly's "album of the year". The album reached number two on the Billboard electronic charts and the top 20 on the independent and Heatseeker charts in the US in 2003.

2004–2005: A Grand Don't Come for Free[edit]

In May 2004, Skinner released a new single, "Fit But You Know It" which became his highest debuting and highest selling single to that point, reaching number four in the UK. The single was later used by EA Sports as part of the soundtrack for their video game FIFA 2005.[3]

"Fit But You Know It" is from Skinner's second album, A Grand Don't Come for Free which is a concept album about a short period in the protagonist's life. The events depicted include losing a thousand pounds, the start of a new relationship, going on holiday, breaking up, and eventually finding the grand again. The MC's remix of "Fit But You Know It" features formerly underground MCs such as Kano, Tinchy Stryder, Donae'o, Lady Sovereign and Devilman.

The album debuted at number two in the UK album charts, but later reached the number one position. Soon after the album was released, Skinner's success grew even larger in July 2004, with the second single "Dry Your Eyes" debuting at the top of the chart in the UK. The success of this album and its singles led to a re-kindling of interest in the first album Original Pirate Material, which re-entered the UK album charts and beat its original chart peak of two years earlier. "Blinded By the Lights", the third single from A Grand Don't Come for Free, hit the Top 10 in September 2004, and a fourth and final single, "Could Well Be In", was released in late 2004.

2006–2007: The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living[edit]

Skinner's third studio album under The Streets moniker, The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living, was released on 10 April 2006 in the United Kingdom and on 25 April 2006 in North America. In the UK it debuted at number one on the album chart. It was a change in direction from his first two albums, the lyrical theme moving away from the stories about working class Britain and instead focusing on the ups and downs of the fame that Skinner encountered after the huge success of his previous albums.

The lead single, titled "When You Wasn't Famous", was released two weeks prior to the album. The song is about Skinner's troubles with trying to date a famous person, following his new-found fame. It was also named 'Track of the Week' by NME in early March 2006, but when it came into the UK singles charts, it only reached the latter course of the top 10, peaking at number eight. There has been much speculation over which celebrity "When You Wasn't Famous" is about - Rachel Stevens and Cheryl Cole are two names that have been ruled out, despite Skinner dedicating the song to Cole on Top Of The Pops.[4] This reluctance to reveal the subject may be more than simple politeness, as some of the descriptions of the unnamed starlet in the track are potentially damaging. At one point, Skinner discloses "my whole life I never thought I'd see a pop star smoke crack".

Mike Skinner has now disclosed in his memoirs that the track is not about his relationship with Rachel Stevens and that she was not the pop star who smoked crack [5]

The second single, "Never Went to Church", is a tribute to Skinner's late father, and appears to use the chord progression of The Beatles' "Let It Be" as a backing. The album also featured the track "Prangin' Out" which later would go on to be remixed with Babyshambles frontman Pete Doherty.

2008–2009: Everything Is Borrowed[edit]

In September 2008, Skinner released his fourth studio album, Everything Is Borrowed.[6] One song from the album, was on Skinner's Myspace page for a while before being replaced by a cover of "Your Song". In a posting on his Myspace blog, Skinner noted that the group's upcoming LP would contain "peaceful, positive vibes" in comparison with 2006's The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living.

In a blurb about the album on Skinner's Myspace, he says "This album started off life as parables but then I realised that it might get a bit cheesy so I got rid of the alien song and the devil song replaced them with more straight up songs. I've pretty much kept my promise that I made to myself not to reference modern life on any of them though which is hard to do and keep things personal at the same time."

On the 1st of January 2009, the compilation album Original Bootleg Material was released. The Album was a collection of B-Sides, remixes and projects by Mike. The Album also included Who Knows Who featuring Muse and works by artists who were signed by The Beats such as The Mitchell Brothers.

2010–2011: Computers and Blues and Cyberspace and Reds[edit]

Mike Skinner and Kevin Mark Trail performing live in Sydney, 2011

In November 2010, Mike Skinner announced via the official The Streets website, that he will release what he referred to as a "mixtape" album called Cyberspace and Reds, consisting of various recordings he had made since he finished work on the final Streets album Computers and Blues.[7] Cyberspace and Reds was released in January 2011, initially only for download via the Streets iPhone app.[8] A so-called "deluxe" edition was later made available for general download through the Streets website. An additional version of the Cyberspace and Reds track "Everyone Has Something to Hide" was released by producer Callum James Greens (Calzo Houdini) with added music rather than the a cappella version originally released.[9][10]

The final The Streets album Computers and Blues was released on 7 February 2011,[11] the first single being "Going Through Hell". The band played live in 2011 at the famous Jersey Live festival for the first time. Skinner performed at Reading Festival 2011, co-headlining the NME/Radio stage with 2manydj's. Skinner performed at the 2011 Freeze Festival at Battersea power station which was his final gig in London performing as The Streets. The Streets ended after their final show at The Big Reunion.

Band members[edit]

  • Mike Skinner – vocals, arranging, composing, mixing, keyboards, synthesizers (1994–2011)
Other contributors and live members



  1. ^ "Hip House Artists - List of Best Hip House DJs/Groups". Ranker. Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  2. ^ "The Streets bio at Yahoo! Music". Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  3. ^ "Retrieved 26-09-12". 2004-08-10. Retrieved 2013-02-28. 
  4. ^ "You're fitted up and don't you know it". Gotcha (headline). Retrieved 2007-09-30. 
  5. ^ "Streets life: stories from Mike Skinner about the Birmingham garage project". Gotcha (headline). Retrieved 2012-03-26. 
  6. ^ "The Streets to split after fifth album". 2008-06-02. Retrieved 2013-02-28. 
  7. ^ Skinner, Mike (November 2010). "***cyberspace and reds***". Retrieved 2011-02-05. 
  8. ^ Skinner, Mike (January 2011). "***cyberspace and red soup***". Retrieved 2011-02-05. 
  9. ^ D'Ambrosio, Addolorata (February 2011). "The Streets – A Story By Calzo Houdini.". Retrieved 2011-02-02. 
  10. ^ Skinner, Mike (January 2011). "***cyberspace and reds deluxe edition***". Retrieved 2011-02-05. 
  11. ^ "The Fifth And Final Album From The StreetsComputers And Blues - The Fifth And Final Album From The Streets". Computers And Blues. Retrieved 2013-02-28. 

External links[edit]