Original Pirate Material

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Original Pirate Material
Studio album by
Released25 March 2002
StudioMike Skinner's house, Brixton, London
ProducerMike Skinner
The Streets chronology
Original Pirate Material
All Got Our Runnins
Singles from Original Pirate Material
  1. "Has It Come to This?"
    Released: 8 October 2001
  2. "Let's Push Things Forward"
    Released: 15 April 2002
  3. "Weak Become Heroes"
    Released: 22 July 2002
  4. "Don't Mug Yourself"
    Released: 21 October 2002

Original Pirate Material is the debut studio album by English hip hop project the Streets, released on 25 March 2002. Recorded mostly in a south London house rented at the time by principal member Mike Skinner, the album is musically influenced by UK garage and American hip hop, while its lyrics tell stories of British working-class life. It was supported by four singles: "Has It Come to This?", "Let's Push Things Forward", "Weak Become Heroes" and "Don't Mug Yourself".

The album originally rose to number 12 on the UK Albums Chart in 2002, and then peaked at number 10 in 2004 after the release of the chart-topping second Streets album A Grand Don't Come for Free. Original Pirate Material received widespread critical acclaim, with many reviewers praising the originality and humour of Skinner's lyrics, and subsequent critics' polls have placed it among the best albums of the 2000s.


Skinner has stated that his main early influences were from the United States, in particular Wu-Tang Clan rappers such as Raekwon and RZA, as well as East Coast rapper Nas's album Illmatic. However, Skinner attributes the album as emerging from the UK garage scene of the late 1990s.[1] His stance when making the album was to combine the UK garage sound with a lyrical content about "all the little adventures you go on" rather than the style of UK hip hop, which he accused of being "someone from Reading pretending to be Biggie or Q-Tip".[2]

Journalist Simon Reynolds identified the album's lyrical content as capturing UK garage's "submerged reality" as a genre not based in nightclubs. Outside of London in the late 1990s, UK garage was rarely played in clubs but was instead found on pirate radio stations, reflected by the album's title.[3]


Recording for Original Pirate Material lasted over a year, with Skinner recording the bulk of the album in the room he was renting in a house in Brixton in south London.[4] The instrumental tracks were created on an IBM ThinkPad, while Skinner used an emptied out wardrobe as a vocal booth using duvets and mattresses to reduce echo.[5] Direct influences on the album included the 2000 film Gladiator, which inspired the lyrics of "Turn the Page", the opening track of the album.[6] He eschewed analogue recording equipment and recorded and mixed the album entirely on Logic Pro, a digital audio workstation.[7]


The cover artwork depicts the south face of the Kestrel House tower block on City Road, London at night. The photo was taken in 1995 by German photographer Rut Blees Luxemburg using an eight-minute exposure.[8]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[10]
Blender4/5 stars[11]
Entertainment WeeklyA[12]
The Guardian4/5 stars[13]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[16]
Uncut5/5 stars[18]
The Village VoiceA−[19]

Original Pirate Material was hailed by the British music press upon its release. The NME said that the album "represents a brilliant break with cliché ... [Skinner is] one of the most original pop voices for years... By turns dark, funny and heartbreaking, the songs on Original Pirate Material are snapshots of ordinary life as a young Midlands resident, set to innovative two-step production: tales of love, going out, being skint, getting drunk, and eating chips. It's Streets by name, and streets by nature, and it's great."[14] Q called Skinner a "vital new voice" and described Original Pirate Material as "starkly observed vignettes ... this debut wittily and wisely documents young lives spent in piss-poor pubs, estate bedrooms and kebab shops... It could easily, but somehow never does, degenerate into the kind of 'street poet' blather TV news editors think spices up election coverage."[20] Mojo said that Skinner "favours a winningly downbeat brand of urban realism, set to minimal, pounding drums ... A lot of his urban vignettes fall somewhere between "The Message" and The Specials' "Ghost Town". But their very ordinariness and the brutish, unadorned simplicity of the music is part of their appeal, evoking the everyday tedium of real 'youth culture' ... A uniquely British voice."[21] Spin said, "Mike Skinner ... could be the most gifted rapper London has ever produced, except that he doesn't really rap – he pontificates, spins spoken-word yarns, and kicks running commentary. Hip-hop – and Britain's equally bling-fixated 2-step-garage scene – has shaped Skinner's sound, but he's too earnest to reproduce their bluster. He's an observant, asphalt-level 'geezer' – Brit slang for everyman – set apart by the sharpness of his lens, not the force of his flow. On Original Pirate Material, Skinner nails the quiet desperation of the white working class like a pub-hooligan Marshall Mathers, with all of Slim Shady's good humor and none of his insanity."[17]

Contemporary reviews for the album commented on its DIY aesthetic and lyricism. Stylus Magazine said that the album "combines the boy-next-door DIY of US garage rock with the sound of UK garage and displays an alchemic ability to turn the humdrum of everyday life into a record that is at times empowering, hilarious, melancholy, awkward, and charming."[22]


Since its release in 2002, Original Pirate Material has received several accolades. In March 2003, NME placed Original Pirate Material at number 46 on their list of the "100 Best Albums of All Time".[23] They subsequently placed the album at number nine in their list of the "100 Best Albums of the Decade".[24] Observer Music Monthly ranked it as the best album of the 2000s.[25] Journalist Simon Reynolds also placed the album at the top of his list of his favourite albums of the 2000s, with a "special 'in a class of its own' award".[26] Pitchfork placed the album at number ten on their list of the top 100 albums of 2000–2004;[27] they later placed it at number 36 on their list of the top 200 albums of the 2000s.[28]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics are written by Mike Skinner.

1."Turn the Page"3:15
2."Has It Come to This?"4:04
3."Let's Push Things Forward" (featuring Kevin Mark Trail)3:51
4."Sharp Darts"1:33
5."Same Old Thing" (featuring Kevin Mark Trail)3:22
6."Geezers Need Excitement"3:46
7."It's Too Late"4:10
8."Too Much Brandy"3:02
9."Don't Mug Yourself"2:39
10."Who Got the Funk?"1:50
11."The Irony of It All"3:29
12."Weak Become Heroes"5:33
13."Who Dares Wins"0:34
14."Stay Positive"6:16


Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Format Catalog
United Kingdom & Europe 25 March 2002 Locked On Records/679 Recordings double LP 679003TLP
CD 679003CDLP
Japan 3 July 2002 Warner Music Japan(ワーナーミュージック・ジャパン) CD WPCR-11232
United States 22 October 2002 VICE Music/Atlantic Records double LP 93181-1
CD 93181-2


  1. ^ Skinner 2012, p. 19.
  2. ^ Skinner 2012, p. 21.
  3. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2007). Bring the Noise. London, England: Faber and Faber. p. 340. ISBN 978-0-5712-3207-9.
  4. ^ Skinner 2012, p. 83.
  5. ^ Skinner 2012, p. 84.
  6. ^ "10 Amazing Songs Without Choruses - NME Blogs - NME.COM - The world's fastest music news service, music videos, interviews, photos and more". NME. 9 December 2009. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
  7. ^ Mike Skinner, AKA The Streets, installs Solid State Logic Duality console. Solid State Logic (7 July 2011). Retrieved 2017-02-06.
  8. ^ Stokes, Tim (2 June 2018). "Revisiting London's iconic album cover images". BBC News. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  9. ^ "Reviews for Original Pirate Material by The Streets". Metacritic. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  10. ^ Bush, John. "Original Pirate Material – The Streets". AllMusic. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  11. ^ Salamon, Jeff (November 2002). "The Streets: Original Pirate Material". Blender. New York (11): 143. Archived from the original on 4 May 2006. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  12. ^ Hermes, Will (20 September 2002). "Original Pirate Material". Entertainment Weekly. New York. Archived from the original on 9 January 2016. Retrieved 1 September 2012.
  13. ^ Costa, Maddy (15 March 2002). "Pirates and predators". The Guardian. London.
  14. ^ a b Robinson, John (16 March 2002). "The Streets: Original Pirate Material". NME. London.
  15. ^ Mitchum, Rob (22 August 2002). "The Streets: Original Pirate Material". Pitchfork. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  16. ^ Edwards, Gavin (31 October 2002). "The Streets: Original Pirate Material". Rolling Stone. New York (908). Archived from the original on 29 May 2009. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  17. ^ a b Caramanica, Jon (November 2002). "The Streets: Original Pirate Material". Spin. New York. 18 (11): 128. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  18. ^ "The Streets: Original Pirate Material". Uncut. London (59): 92. April 2002.
  19. ^ Christgau, Robert (21 January 2003). "Consumer Guide: Escape Claus". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  20. ^ Lowe, Steve (March 2002). "The Streets: Original Pirate Material". Q. London (188): 115.
  21. ^ Collin, Matthew (April 2002). "The Streets: Original Pirate Material". Mojo. London (101): 115.
  22. ^ Plagenhoef, Scott (1 September 2003). "The Streets – Original Pirate Material – Review". Stylus Magazine. Archived from the original on 4 February 2010. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  23. ^ "2003 NME's Writers - All Time Top 100 Albums". Timepieces.nl. Archived from the original on 17 September 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  24. ^ "The Strokes' 'Is This It' tops NME albums of the decade list". NME. 17 November 2009. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  25. ^ Thompson, Ben (29 November 2009). "Albums of the decade No 1: The Streets – Original Pirate Material". Observer Music Monthly. London. Retrieved 29 November 2009.
  26. ^ Simon Reynolds (13 January 2010). "blissblog". Blissout.blogspot.com. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  27. ^ "The Top 100 Albums of 2000-04, Part Two". Pitchfork. 7 February 2005. Archived from the original (– Scholar search) on 13 August 2008. Retrieved 14 August 2008.
  28. ^ "Staff Lists: The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 50-21 | Features". Pitchfork. 1 October 2009. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
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  30. ^ "Lescharts.com – The Streets – Original Pirate Material". Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  31. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – The Streets – Original Pirate Material". Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  32. ^ "Charts.nz – The Streets – Original Pirate Material". Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  33. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – The Streets – Original Pirate Material". Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  34. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  35. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  36. ^ "End of Year Album Chart Top 100 – 2002". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  37. ^ "The Official UK Albums Chart 2003" (PDF). UKChartsPlus. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  38. ^ "The Official UK Albums Chart 2004" (PDF). Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2 April 2021.


External links[edit]