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Original Pirate Material
Original Pirate Material is the best album by a British artist since OK Computer. He is a rapper, producer, songwriter and bedroom boffin extraordinaire that has set a new benchmark for just how thrilling, insightful, innovative and brilliant music can get
Eamon Sweeney, 08 Apr 2002
‘Urban music’ – a niggling ‘90s catch all phrase that tried to categorize the throbbing metropolitan pulse of hip-hop, r’n’b garage, drum n’ bass, soul and pop. In reality – a smug entity which became the preserve of the flash git and the stylized slapper.
But let’s not beat around the genre-dissection garage / two-step bush here – Original Pirate Material is the best album by a British artist since OK Computer. He is a rapper, producer, songwriter and bedroom boffin extraordinaire that has set a new benchmark for just how thrilling, insightful, innovative and brilliant music can get.
This is unmistakably today’s England of lairy geezers and street violence – but its got all the street spirit and urban resonance you’d find anywhere and everywhere – whether it be Cabra or Chelsea, Mullingar or Moss Side, the Bronx or Brixton, Naas or Notting Hill. Listen to ‘Stay Positive’ closely and be wowed by how raw and moving a talent Skinner is.
While this boy genius was reared on a diet of all-nighters that included everything from garage to jungle to house and every sub-genre in between, his musical canvas incorporates the searing call to arms protest and uproarious sense of humour which was pioneered by The Specials and Madness respectively. His production suss and way with words recall the crisp hip-hop clarity of Gang Starr. The sonic manifesto to “push things forwards” recalls the innovative exploits of Massive Attack and Tricky and his devastating knack at sculpturing raps from real human emotion exposes Eminem as the over-rated attention seeking tosser he is. No one, and I mean absolutely no one, has written about the whole pills n’ thrills and bellyaches experience of raving as honestly, perceptively and as beautifully as Mike does in ‘We Became Heroes’.
During the wonderful ‘The Irony of it All’, he masterfully darts between Terry, a typical lager lout who has a curry and a fight at the weekend and Tim, the know it all stoner who lives in his own bubble and “poses no threat from my settee” despite being criminalised as a toker and a dealer.
As this one man street army rightfully claims; “This ain’t a track/it’s a movement.” Mike Skinner already should get a knighthood for this landmark contribution to British music, and you should rush out and get his album.