Mike Skinner (musician)

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Mike Skinner
Mike Skinner of The Streets live at Parklife, Sydney 2011 02.jpg
Skinner performing at a concert in 2011
Background information
Birth nameMichael Geoffrey Skinner
Born (1978-11-27) 27 November 1978 (age 41)
Chipping Barnet, London, England
OriginBirmingham, West Midlands, England
  • Rapper
  • songwriter
  • musician
  • record producer
  • Vocals
  • synthesizer
  • keyboard
  • guitar
Years active1993–present
Associated acts

Michael Geoffrey Skinner (born 27 November 1978) is an English rapper, songwriter, musician, and record producer best known for the music project The Streets.[1]

Early life[edit]

Skinner was born in Barnet, but grew up in West Heath, Birmingham.[2] He started playing with keyboards at the age of five.[3] When he was seven years old he began experiencing symptoms of epilepsy, which worsened in his early teens.[4] He began writing hip hop and garage music in his home in West Heath and later built a sound booth in his bedroom, using a cupboard and a mattress.[3] In the mid-1990s, following secondary education at Bournville School, Skinner became a student at Sutton Coldfield College, in Sutton Coldfield, and was working in fast-food jobs while trying to start his own independent record label and sending off demos.[citation needed]

He describes his background as "Barratt class: suburban estates, not poor but not much money about, really boring,"[3] referring to the property developer Barratt Developments. Skinner has always identified himself with Birmingham and he is a keen supporter of Birmingham City.[citation needed] He has worn the club's replica shirt on stage. He also wore it in the music video for his remix of Bloc Party's single "Banquet".[citation needed]

Music career[edit]

The Streets (1994–2011, 2017–present)[edit]

In the albums Skinner made with The Streets he focused on vocals, arranging, composing, mixing, keyboards, and synthesizers.

The Beats Recordings[edit]

In 2005, Skinner and Ted Mayhem launched the independent record label The Beats Recordings. A subsidiary of 679 Recordings, The Beats was home to British hip-hop acts such as The Mitchell Brothers, Example and Professor Green. The label closed in 2007, but reopened in 2012.[5]

The D.O.T. and Tonga Balloon Gang (2011–present)[edit]

After shelving The Streets, Skinner launched a new project, called The D.O.T, along with Rob Harvey of The Music. Harvey performs on vocals, allowing Skinner to "further develop his production approach".[6] Their first album, And That, was released on 22 October 2012.[7] Their second album titled Diary was released on 5 May 2013.

In 2013, Skinner remixed Norwich rapper Context's song "Small Town Lad Sentiments". The remix features on Context's second EP, Hindsight is the Purest Form of Romance (2014). In 2015, he remixed Slaves' breakthrough single "Cheer Up London" alongside Jammer. The remix featured on an extended play exclusive to HMV, released alongside the group's debut album Are You Satisfied?.

Skinner teamed up with UK rap group Murkage to form a supergroup entitled Tonga Balloon Gang, and they released an eponymous three-track EP on 14 November 2015.[8] The release features additional vocals from Jammer and Big Narstie.[9] In 2016 Skinner released a number of tracks on Soundcloud under the name The Darker the Shadow, The Brighter the Light. In April 2017 he released the song "Bad Decisions In The Night" on digital platforms.[10]



Skinner is influenced by musical genres including hip hop, UK garage, reggae, and country and western music.[11] Some of the many hip hop artists that influenced him in the making of some of The Streets' albums are DJ Premier and Erick Sermon.[citation needed]

Musical style[edit]

Skinner is best known for his lyricism matched with his blurring of musical styles of UK garage, hip hop, indie rock, reggae and ska. The Guardian reviewer Dave Simpson particularly praised Skinner's "dazzling wordplay."[12]

Acting and movie work[edit]

The Inbetweeners[edit]

The soundtrack album for the film The Inbetweeners Movie was released in 2011, featuring nine new compositions by Skinner.[citation needed]

Beat Stevie[edit]

An online channel currently presented by Mike and business partner Ted Mayhem, Beat Stevie, is an "anything goes" blog/music show also shown on Channel 4 in their 4Music late night strand.[citation needed] The episodes often include backstage footage and onstage hijinks. Events documented in the show have also been mentioned in the early songs of Example and Professor Green. The 'funeral' of Skinner's record label "The Beats" was shown on the channel, with the mixtapes of The Mitchell Brothers, Example and Professor Green being burnt in a fire of absinthe.[citation needed]


Skinner had a cameo role in the fifth series of Doctor Who as a security guard, featuring in the episode "The Time of Angels".[13]

In a 2011 interview, Skinner also revealed that he would be starring in a film, a thriller set in a hospital.[14] Adding that it won't be a "blockbuster" and that it will take around two years to complete.

Skinner guest-starred as Blockhead in one episode of Major Lazer.[citation needed]

Promotional and campaign work[edit]

In 2005, Skinner signed up to appear in a twelve-month ad campaign for Reebok's "I Am What I Am" campaign.[15][16][17][18]

Personal life[edit]

In 2008, Skinner took time off from The Streets to battle symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and later wrote the song "Trying to Kill M.E." to document his fight against the disorder. In addition, he has tried to raise awareness that "it's not just depression. That's what people tend to think". Another statement he has released on the topic: "I was incapacitated. It seems to have faded now. But at the time I think I was working too hard. It was important to just mention it really. It was such a big thing for me. It lasted about a year at its worst. I had to stop working."[19]

In 2010, Skinner married Claire Le Marquand in Antibes after the birth of their daughter Amelia in 2009. Skinner attributes the turnaround of his lifestyle, in regards to his dabbling with drugs, to the birth of his daughter and the responsibility of being a father.[20]


The Streets[edit]

The D.O.T[edit]

The Darker the Shadow The Brighter the Light[edit]

  • Soundcloud Release (2017)


  • The Story of The Streets. London: Bantam Press, 2012. By Mike Skinner. 304 pages. ISBN 978-0593068076. Biography recording his beginnings as a musician in the Birmingham suburbs in the garage scene, to his struggles as a commercial musician.[21]


  1. ^ "The Streets bio at Yahoo! Music". Archived from the original on 10 January 2007. Retrieved 18 July 2007.
  2. ^ Bainbridge, Luke (2006), The voice of little Britain, The Guardian, retrieved 9 August 2019, But Skinner has never hidden the fact that he comes from the suburbs. He was born in Barnet, north London and moved to West Heath, Birmingham at the age of five. 'You think I'm ghetto? Stop dreaming,' he mocked on his debut album.
  3. ^ a b c "Mike Skinner: Voice of The Streets". BBC News website. British Broadcasting Corporation. 13 January 2003. Retrieved 30 September 2007. The Streets, who have been given four Brit Award nominations, is the one-man band better known as Birmingham musician Mike Skinner.
  4. ^ Thompson, Ben (25 April 2004). "Interview: The Streets". Guardian. London. Retrieved 14 September 2007.
  5. ^ "Mike Skinner Exclusive – [Live Meets...]". LiveMagUK. YouTube. 12 March 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2012.
  6. ^ Andrew Martin (21 October 2011). "The Streets' Mike Skinner Starts New Band: The D.O.T | Prefix". Prefixmag.com. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
  7. ^ "The Streets' Mike Skinner and The Music's Rob Harvey announce new album and tour – ticket details". NME. 28 August 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
  8. ^ http://rwdmag.com/tonga-balloon-gang-murkage-dave-mike-skinner-oscar-worldpeace-gaika-klepto-dj-smith-to-release-ep-and-here-is-lead-single-make-no-scene/
  9. ^ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/tonga-balloon-gang-single/id1051688330
  10. ^ Tanti, Omar (10 April 2017). "Mike Skinner is rapping again with his solo project The Darker the Shadow, The Brighter the Light". Loud And Quiet. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  11. ^ "Interview with Mike Skinner from The Streets By Martin Worster" (Video Interview). YouTube. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
  12. ^ Simpson, Dave (22 February 2011). "The Streets Review". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  13. ^ "The Streets' Mike Skinner makes 'Doctor Who' cameo | NME". NME. 25 April 2010. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  14. ^ "Mike Skinner not sad at Streets demise". BBC. 2 July 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
  15. ^ "Softpedia article detailing relationship between Skinner and Reebok". Softpedia. 26 August 2005. Archived from the original on 24 August 2007. Retrieved 18 July 2007.
  16. ^ Farey-Jones, Daniel (25 August 2005). "Brand Republic article detailing relationship between Skinner and Reebok". Brand Republic. Retrieved 18 July 2007.
  17. ^ "Mike Skinner fronts UK-only 'I Am What I Am' campaign for Reebok". Haymarket Media Group. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  18. ^ "Evening Standard article detailing relationship between Skinner and Reebok". This Is London. 25 August 2005. Retrieved 18 July 2007.[dead link]
  19. ^ "Skinner Hopes to Raise Awareness of Fatigue Syndrome". Retrieved 11 October 2012.
  20. ^ "Mike Skinner Laid Bare in The Story of the Streets Autobiography". Retrieved 11 October 2012.[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ "Mike Skinner's The Story of The Streets". Retrieved 11 October 2012.

External links[edit]