It's difficult to explain just how fresh, how new, and how vital The Streets sounded when they first landed.
Mike Skinner's project was part of the crossover wave of UKG, a time when the underground sprinted across the charts, but the sheer poetry of his lyricism took his work into another dimension.
Debut album 'Original Pirate Material' still feels strikingly unique, despite the fact that you can trace the influence of The Streets everywhere in British pop right now.
With Mike Skinner taking the project back out on the road next year, Clash tracked down some of our favourite artists to reminisce about how important The Streets actually are...
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'Has It Come To This' (As picked by AJ Tracey)
Because it proper captures that garagey vibe I grew up to. Reminds me of my old estate and my mum vibesin in the kitchen.
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The Mitchell Brothers - 'Routine Check' ft. Kano & The Streets (As picked by Conducta)
I really like the concept of how the tune makes light of stop and search and police in the UK. Also it's an all-star line up of some of the UK's finest lyricists of the time.
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'Blinded By The Lights' (As picked by Louis Mattrs)
'Blinded By The Lights' is my all time favourite song of The Streets. I loved it so much that it inspired the opening line of my song 'Lost & Not Found' that I wrote for Chase & Status.
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'Has It Come To This' (As picked by Jorja Smith)
The track takes me back to walking around my town (Walsall), with the sun shining, passing through the local estates and seeing people out playing. Happy times...
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'Blinded By The Lights' (As picked by Christopher Port)
'Original Pirate Material' was a huge influence on me, but when ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’ came out it solidified The Streets as a huge influence on the kind of music I would eventually produce.
This track is one of my absolute favourites. It’s got such a strong narrative throughout. The form is more like a folk or blues song, it’s one long story about a night out, which could be kitsch and boring in the hands of anyone else but Mike Skinner’s honesty makes the track completely convincing.
The production is so simple and is the perfect accompaniment to the story of the track. I can’t think of any other tracks like it.
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'Has It Come To This' (As picked by Joe Hertz)
The beat is amazing, it wasn't like garage I had heard before, it was beautiful then and still is now. Lyrically it's second to none. "Videos, televisions, 64's, PlayStations... weigh up a Henry with precision" pretty much sums up my teenage self, haha! Classic record.
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'It's Too Late' (As picked by Anna Straker)
The first time I heard The Streets I was like "what the f*ck is this?!" As one of my first experiences of English rap, it felt really raw. And I didn't understand so many of the lyrics back then but when I revisit it now I'm older it's like listening to a whole new thing!
On this track, I love the combination of the beautiful soaring strings and the garage-y beats. Every song tells a story, and there's no holding back. He's 100% real and so many artists find it difficult to be that. Even his voice, it's so un-poetic that it is SO poetic. I love the simplicity of it all.
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'Blinded By The Lights' (As picked by Roni Size)
My favourite track has to be 'Blinded By The Lights'. No doubt the track is vibing, but for me it was the lyrics and the music video which really hard hit. It was like listening to and watching a story at the same time - and a story that felt like an accurate depiction of what I saw so frequently when I was touring. The video is like a mini-movie, it's shot so well.
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'Stay Positive' (As picked by Grim Sickers)
"Cause this world swallow souls..."
I remember hearing these words in my room as a depressed teenager. This track was towards the end of the album and took me a while to find after a few several 100 rewinds of other classics on the album. This song hit me instantly, the words felt like they wrote for me, this was before I’d done music, this was me finding out who I was.
I always wonder what mindstate Mike was in when he wrote this song, in fact I never want to know, that’s the beauty of it. If you’re feeling down, depressed, upset, this song is the foundation of getting back on your feet.
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'Has It Come To This' (As picked by MJ Cole)
This landed on my turntable as an unmarked white label many moons ago. I got Gilles Peterson onto it on one of his studio visits. Obviously I’m solely responsible for its success, haha! It encapsulates London of that time in its smokey, late night stream-of-consciousness way. I love the flow, the piano sample and the imagery. This is Art.
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'Fit But You Know It' Remix feat Donae'o, Kano, Tinchy Stryder and Lady Sovereign (As picked by Franko Fraize)
This was a proper special track for me cos it shined a light on up and coming grime MCs that were getting their first taste of Channel U love at the time.
This format of featuring other MCs was something Mike did a few times and I think it was instrumental in helping bring the scene through. This remix featured Tinchy Stryder, Kano, Donae’o and Lady Sovereign, who all went on to have a great deal of success. It shows Mike has always had his finger on the pulse. The video was class too. A Channel U classic!
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'Dry Your Eyes' (As picked by Fusion)
I remember being young hearing the streets on the radio, Mike Skinner’s voice stood out for me. I was listening to ‘Dry Your Eyes’ thinking, "who is this cockney sounding fella making it sound sick?"
I’m from Newham, East London to be precise, so already I was familiar with the cockney slang terms, I was won over and a convinced fan when I heard 'Blinded By The Lights', which I found very interesting. Kano is a grime OG from my area so when I saw Mike Skinner was involved in the writing of 'Nite Nite', I was like yeaaah certified!
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'Has It Come To This' (As picked by Roxxxan)
I love the garage feel. The melodies in the beat and the sample just sets it off perfectly... Mike Skinner sits on the beat and rides it till the end...
It makes me feel warm inside and reminds me of being young, watching my mum (I have a young mum), getting ready going out to garage raves with all her friends and me wishing I was older and not being able to wait until I could dress up.
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'Blinded By The Lights' (As picked by Solardo)
For me, my favourite track by The Streets was 'Blinded By The Lights'. There are so many reasons behind this, as it felt so relatable for me at the time, being single and partying on weekends. Apart from the incredible vocal content, the track itself was produced so well and very different to what was out there at the time.
Back then there weren’t so many outside the box sounding tracks, especially in the charts. This for me, was one of a kind.
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'Dry Your Eyes' (As picked by Shadow Child)
After all the bangers and ground breaking material from The Streets - who's probably brought us the most unique vibe to UK urban music I can think of - hearing ‘Dry Your Eyes' for the first time, I was blown away. The way the emotion in this record is conveyed is genius. Not only from the emotive strings, but Skinner’s unique poetic writing and delivery... it’s something else.
I’m hardly one that latches on to lyrics in any song, it’s just not me, but this is one of the only songs with a story I truly listen to, and once related to. Truly can’t wait for the return!
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The Streets have confirmed the following shows:
19 Birmingham O2 Academy
20 Glasgow O2 Academy
21 Manchester O2 Apollo
23 Leeds O2 Academy
25 London O2 Academy Brixton
26 London O2 Academy Brixton
27 London O2 Academy Brixton
For tickets to the latest shows by The Streets click HERE.
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