The Streets – Computers and Blues
In 2002 one man changed the British musical landscape forever; scarring it, remolding it, evolving it into his own. This man was Mike Skinner, better known as The Streets.
Nine years and four albums on, The Streets release their fifth and final album, Computers and Blues. A momentous and sad time for British hip hop signifying, for some, the end of a beautiful time of partying, casual drug use and lager drinking. For others, as with Mike Skinner, a time for change and redirection in life, nearly a decade is a long time in anybody’s world.
The album, from track one to track fourteen (sixteen if you got the deluxe version like me) is fantastic, it can be listened to as a whole without ever having the itch to touch the skip button, if anything, you don’t want it to end. It’s one of those albums that ceases to become boring, even on the third play in a row it’s still throwing out little nuggets of lyrical genius, musical seduction and new angles on songs that you hadn’t twigged on the last two listens.
Computers and Blues has Skinner’s unique musical, vocal and lyrical features; the quirky hip hop rhythms, the spoken word poetical mastery which connects him fully to his audience and his unique outlook on life. He touches on subjects that we all can relate to; Facebook relationships, nights out and the pains of relationship deterioration. His songs are stories, philosophy and projected wisdom collected throughout his life and guarantees that his listeners cling to every word.
The album touches on sensitive subjects which a lot of The Streets’ original fans (the 2002 listeners) who have grown up with Skinner will be able to relate more so than perhaps his newer listeners. Blip On A Screen, first heard on Zane Lowe’s show back in 2009 is clearly about a tender moment (and rightly so) in his life when his girlfriend, music producer Claire Le Marquand was pregnant with their first child. He speaks to the unborn child, he worries about his competence as a father, the uncertainty of the future and “what you will grow to be”.
In We Can Never Be Friends he talks about the falling apart of a couple and how differing needs can not only ruin a relationship but a friendship too. The chorus, “we can never be friends, one wants to stay together, one wants it to end.” speaks such truths and everybody at least knows someone who has been in the situation if not experienced it first hand.
These are but a couple of the songs on a truly brilliant album, other highlights include Omg, about Facebook statuses, Soldiers and the latest single Going Through Hell with such great lines as “I won’t say a word until I walk a mile in your shoes, but when I’m a mile away I’ll utter what the f*** I choose, in my nice new shoes.”
Ultimately this album is incredibly close to perfect. The Streets end it all on a high despite the fact I’m left begging for more.
See The Streets official website, http://the-streets.co.uk/ for Cyberspace and Reds, a whole album of unused material featuring the likes of Kano, Wiley and Wretch 32.