The Streets

A Grand Don't Come for Free (Vice/Atlantic)

Twista Agora Theatre, 5000 Euclid Avenue 8 p.m. Saturday, May 15, $22.50 advance/$24 day of show, 216-241-5555
Historically, English crossovers shelter the nuances we Yankees find so easy to mock. Indeed, the best-loved expats (Wham!, for example) conquered xenophobia by sounding like us in song and avoiding references too British.

That changed in the late '90s, when drum & bass, jungle, and Brit-hop became the vogue. Brixton, "wanker," angst for the queen -- we couldn't get enough. Jump to 2002 -- the Streets (mixmaster Mike Skinner) arrived, delivering hip-hop heavy on garage and trance, the newest U.K. imports. Skinner's Original Pirate Material blurred rap, rock, and electronica in a more abstract way than that of its Tricky-like predecessors; it was also darker than goofy garage.

A Grand Don't Come for Free, the Streets' new venture, continues what Skinner pioneered -- fast, humorously morose narratives over jagged, stop-and-go beats. One Skinner hallmark is to rhyme over a track that doesn't "match" the flow of the music; cuts like "It Was Supposed to Be So Easy" demonstrate this clever albeit challenging formula. This is not dance music. The album does, however, contain some simply groovable grooves: tracks like "Get Out of My House" and "Fit but You Know It," where Brit slang, dadaist turns in sound, and a jaded street ethos collide to make enjoyable music, even if it is foreign to us.

Like this story?
SCENE Supporters make it possible to tell the Cleveland stories you won’t find elsewhere.
Become a supporter today.
Scroll to read more Music News articles

Join Cleveland Scene Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.