Mike Skinner (known as The Streets) really gets to the meat of the problem in reference to being a burgeoning pop celebrity. To start off The Street’s full length, The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living, the British MC/ producer informs, “I get back off tour and suddenly it doesn’t seem so much fun to be off my face at a quarter to eleven AM.”
Whether it’s a stabbing self-parody or the bloody truth, Skinner, takes us on a guided tour of his madness-laden existence. With topics dealing with drugs/alcohol, getting laid, and pure misbehavior, Skinner entertains. His humorous delivery is at times artfully playful, other times blatant and arrogant, and mostly downright truthful to the core.
On the first single, “When You Wasn’t Famous,” he begins with his complaint about camera phones: “…how the hell am I supposed to be able to do a line in front of complete strangers when they’ve all got cameras?” And then he continues boasting at the ease of getting laid while famous and conversely lamenting getting laid by famous girl and how “it feels just like when you wasn’t famous.” Oh how painful the nuances of celebrity status must be.
The Streets’ lyrical content is open and personal—highlighting excess and the disillusionment that accompanies life in the fast lane. When not informing about the fine art of hotel antics on tour, “Hotel Expressionism,” or expressing his thoughts about the music industry on the title track, Skinner mourns the loss of his father and the anti-religion theme on “Never Went To Church.” It’s shameless exposition delivered in a deliciously clever kind of way.
Musically speaking The Hardest Way sways little from his previous works with tight production, clever sampling, hard beats and sing-along melodies. Music rooted with the aggressive and minimalist grime / British rap style that he’s clearly still a major part of.
Ultimately The Hardest Way is an entertaining look at how The Streets chooses to deal with the mental/physical/emotional anguish of being a famous pop star. No matter how pretentious or grandiose it seems—the dude is swimming in loads of cash that we’d all take in a heartbeat.