Welcome to the initial episode of Neonpajamas for Breakfast, a weekly morning column discussing hip-hop, pop, film, television, and an unhealthy buffet of mental rambles. Enjoy.
What did you have for breakfast this morning? Coffee and an apple? Something gluten free? Last night’s pizza? Beerios? This week, I have a nice English breakfast to throw at you, so dump the Beerios, put on a gold watch, and let’s get after it.
I’d like to kick this column off with the discography of The Streets. Mike Skinner, the brain behind the five releases, had a vision from the beginning. With the opening song on the debut Original Pirate Material, he tells his new audience, “…a figure emerges from the wastage / Eyes transfixed with a piercing gaze / One hand clutching his sword raised to the sky / They wonder how, they wonder why.” Not necessarily a Gucci Mane flow.
On his first album, we hear elements of classical music and crack house drum kicks, split personalities telling us their side of the story. Despite being released in 2002, it is easily comparable to Kendrick’s newest good kid, m.A.A.d city. Drug deals, bad influences, schitzo shit. The five album history takes us from the slums of London to cold bus stops to shiny dark cars to waterfall getaways to elegant living. Not quite rags to riches, but the rise of something wonderful. In between the opening scene and the final credits, we get a flawless “hip-hopera” (is that a thing?) with 2004′s A Grand Don’t Come For Free, which details the story of a man who loses a thousand dollars on the first track, his trials and tribulations (ecstasy, drunk fights, diners), and how he finds the money in the end. Remember Dizzee Rascal?
By the fifth and final album, released in 2011, we still hear Mike Skinner, we are still listening to The Streets, but a different man and a different artist has emerged. A new direction of music, his final effort being almost all electronic with much more singing. But, the flow is overwhelming. Still introspective, still funny, still dark, as if the geezer planned it all along.- neonpajamas