The Streets “When You Wasn’t Famous”

The StreetsArtist:
Adam Smith
Add Date:
March 27, 2006


Hello fellow music lovers! It’s Andy Gesner and the staff from HIP Video Promo. I’m on my 2006 tour now, spending time with many of our beloved programmers, but the ultra cool videos just keep coming. It’s been a great thrill to work with The Streets, and not just because we can’t get enough of Mike Skinner’s music. It’s also because Skinner’s videos are invariably fantastic – he’s a charismatic and hilarious performer, and he’s always at home in front of the camera. We’ve also gotten to watch The Streets do what few modern British pop musicians (and almost no British rappers) have: catch on in America. In the U.K., Skinner is a tabloid-worthy superstar. Stateside, he many not have attained that level of fame yet, but if you don’t know the music of The Streets, buddy, you can turn in your hipster credentials right now.

To recap for those who might have tuned in late: The Streets turned the British music world inside out with Original Pirate Material, Skinner’s groundbreaking debut. Incorporating elements of breakbeat, American hip-hop and Euro techno, garage, two step, and synthpop, Original Pirate Material still managed to sound utterly unique. Skinner claimed no allegiance to any camp – he violated rules and conventional practices as a matter of course, flipped beats backward, experimented with dramatic synth textures and strange samples. As playful and unconventional as the music was, Skinner’s vocals were even more idiosyncratic: they were engrossing, conversational, quirky, wildly expressive and instantly identifiable. He seemed to be speaking from (and somehow speaking for) the heart of young England.

There were boast tracks on Original Pirate Material, but it was Skinner’s hypnotic storytelling that really distinguished the best cuts on the album. A Grand Don’t Come For Free, the follow-up and American breakthrough, was one continuous story – twelve tracks assembled in a perfect narrative arc, complete with dense characterization, subplots, and a conclusion worthy of Greek drama. It was funny as hell, too; genuine working-class British tale-spinning, full of rough humor, illuminating juxtapositions, and poetic justice. If Ian Dury had grown up on Wu-Tang Clan rather than the Stones, or if Ray Davies had come of age in Midlands raves rather than Swinging London, they might have made an album like A Grand Don’t Come For Free.

On March 27, Skinner returns for Act III – with an album bearing the it-could-only-be-the-Streets title of The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living. The record industry? Gambling? Crime? Some combination of all three? We don’t know yet, but we can’t wait to find out. Our friends at Vice Records tell us that Hardest Way is a story-album like Grand – but since we’ve all learned that Skinner is constitutionally incapable of repeating himself, we’re expecting some twists. “When You Wasn’t Famous” is our first proof, and a good indication that he hasn’t lost any of his sense of humor, or his entertaining romantic self-deprecation. In that characteristic public-house wit of his, Skinner tells the story of an ill-fated relationship with an unnamed celebrity. The track shows Skinner’s awareness of contemporary British pop musical trends – the influence of baile funk is unmistakable. No matter how effortlessly he integrates the Brazilian beats, the song sounds like nothing other than Streets music.

When last we saw Mike Skinner in a video, he was getting the holy hell beat out of him at a wedding in the harrowing, booze-hazy “Blinded By The Lights”. So perhaps it’s appropriate that the “Famous” clip opens with an ostensibly repentant Skinner checking himself into detox. But “When You Wasn’t Famous” is the witty, wry version of the Streets – so this trip to rehab is played partially for laughs. Skinner raps on the psychiatrist’s couch and through the face-hole in the masseur’s table, hugs senior citizens in recovery, tries to pick up a girl he recognizes from a commercial, and flirts unsuccessfully with the receptionist. His performance is, as usual, a self-effacing scream: his look back at the camera after he reads the sign over the clinic door is positively priceless. Once finished with his stay in the country, he texts a friend to supply a getaway car; and the last we see of Skinner is as a passenger in the front seat, gleefully heading off to the next party.

We are delighted to once again be working with our good friends at VICE to bring you this new bit of magic from The Streets. The Streets will becoming stateside this Spring, so if they are coming through your area and you would like to attend the show please let us know. We will have plenty of copies of The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living, plus some other cool goodies for on-air giveaways. If you need more info call Andy Gesner at 732-613-1779, or email

Vice Recordings The Streets


For info on the previous Streets’ video, “Fit But You Know It”, click HERE

For info on the previous Streets’ video, “Dry Your Eyes”, click HERE

For info on the previous Streets’ video, “Blinded By The Lights”, click HERE

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