The UK artist has kept his word
It’s hard to believe that an artist could have such a disdain for the persona in which they created. When it comes to UK artist Mike Skinner who raps under the moniker, The Streets, he does. Debuting in 2002 with his album Original Pirate Material, Skinner was able to gain success both with the general public and critics. As he began releasing more LPs and becoming bolder and experimental with his craft, he begins to, as he puts it, become “fucking sick” of the name and the baggage that came along with it. He was running out of ideas. Two years prior to the release of his 2011 album, Computers and Blues, he told NME that he will not return to this persona unless he was 40 and broke. He stuck to it by releasing that final album, restarting a label and DJing. Now nine years since his last release, a 40-year-old father of two released None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive, an LP that showcases his new MC inspirations, middle-aged topics and no care for consequences.
Skinner considers this latest release to be similar to a mixtape. It follows the same criteria as the previous one, Cyberspace and Reds, as each of the 12 songs has a feature. The production on this mixtape is very well with a combination of different subgenres all fused into one song. Much of the production includes basic trap beats, dance music, UK garage bands and the well-known UK drum and bass. As an instrumental, the beats are smooth and transition well as the tape progresses.
Skinner’s voice is definitely a unique sound. His wordplay is just as different as him. Prior to this release, he was speaking on the life of a twenty-something-year-old whose personality is based on partying. Now more mature, he’s speaking on topics such as cell phones and life as you get older. On “Phone Is Always in My Hand” he says, “Everyone’s around when times are amazing but do they wait with you when you’re tying your laces?” and “You’re ignoring me but you’re watching my stories.”
On “Take Me As I Am” he states, “Men are weird at the close of the PM/ just ask a pretty girl to show you her DMs.” The remaining songs as well, even if the bars may seem weird and even questionable at times, all hint at moments of growth for Skinner and a new perspective on the world he is living in. The youthfulness comes from the features. Artists like Tame Impala, Ms Banks and Kasien demonstrate flows that are smooth, quick and nimble. Comparing them to the seasoned artist, their wordplay and delivery are sharp, whereas Skinner’s spoken-word-like flow seems off-beat at times. However, he chose these artists for this reason and it provides the tape with an extra push to intrigue newer listeners.
It’s hard to believe that someone like Skinner, who has been in the game for a while, has completely stripped down the making of this LP. Taking a more low-budget, DIY approach, he has filmed videos and mixed the project all on his iPhone. Instead of having meetings, he’s DMing artists he would like to collaborate with. This is expected from someone newer, who lacks resources and a name. Yet someone like Skinner sees this as an opportunity to be big, bold and to have fun… and this energy is carried throughout None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive.