Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Music Review: Streets - Computers & Blues

Article first published as Music Review: The Streets - Computers & Blues on Blogcritics.

I realise I’ve kept with the Glastonbury theme since my last two articles, but stick with me, because I’m on a roll here! The Streets, a British rap group led by Mike Skinner from Birmingham, England. The Streets was first constructed in 1994, and made a scene in the U.K. garage scene with the likes of Craig David and Artful Dodger.

Enough about the history, let’s get down to business.

The group released their latest album, Computers & Blues in February 2011. Their lyrical flow is cleverly random, and still able to make sense, if you get what I mean. For example, the opening track “Outside, Inside”, and the songs that follow, “Puzzled By People”, and “OMG” capture the essence of this album. It demonstrates the skill set, of the Streets in terms of their selection of words, which makes it fun, and humorous for listeners. It delivers exactly what you would expect from any hip-hop/rap artist.

It's an album of 14 tracks that’ll make you laugh out loud and roll on the floor, and on "Cry Me A River Of Tears", it'll make any male as emotional as a female.

In “Outside, Inside” The Streets rap: “The world is outside but inside warm/inside informal outside stormy inside normal”.

Is Skinner suggesting that the world outside is cruel, but when you step back inside, into your own comfort zone, everything is OK again? Going further by using “outside stormy, inside normal,” is a metaphor to prove the statement I made earlier.

One of the most meaningful, and favourite tracks of mine has to be “Puzzled By People”. Here, the lyrics are cleverly written, as it gives you the illusion that the lead rapper is in the middle of a crossword puzzle.

It is in the first verse of this deep and meaningful song, Skinner raps:
“I'm pretty good at puzzles but puzzled by people, and I don't trouble, trouble, and trouble. Don't trouble me.
Stare at the paper, fold it in two.
Facing the walls are the soles of my shoes”.

This opening verse of this track is pretty interesting, as The Streets could be suggesting that sometimes they fear their closest friends can turn into a "fren-enemy". So in their mind, it’s better for them to keep out of trouble, and “fold it in two”.

Skinner continues: “Puzzled by people, loving isn't easy/You can't Google the solutions to people's feelings ... Sometimes you have to find out for yourself/Sometimes you need to be told. Sometimes you never find the answer”.

This is very interesting, as the Streets try to explain the complications of life, in a very clever and creative way. The Streets are able to combine the struggles of life and modernize it with something up to date, like the Internet.

Computers & Blues illustrates the fact The Streets love to live spontaneously. A track that suggests this is “Without Thinking”.

In it, Skinner says: “I'll go out without a blink, out without a blink, I'll go downtown without thinking and shout over a drink [2x], all the people in the place [2x]”.

Computers & Blues provides an intriguing vibe to hip-hop, as the beats are eccentric, and not always the traditional beat, which makes it fun to listen to. With tracks like “Those That Don’t Know”, The Streets explain the day-to-day life of living in a big city like London.

The album also demonstrates a moving overview of life, with songs like “We Can Never Be Friends”, which talks about the emotional connection between two people, preferably a male and female. Furthermore, “OMG”, and “Trying To Kill M.E” also shows a deep connection between music and his personal life.

For example, he raps the following:
“Pull some paper out the printer, pick up a pen and pen into the winter. The oldest cell in my body's only 10 years old,

With the smell of the kitchen, I dwell on the kissing of my missus
Holding a bowl and reminiscing”.

“ABC” is a fun song that goes through the alphabet, but not like you would expect. “A you cant say what you B/I don’t C what you seeI hear a meloDy/To drop with a mellow E/Hell not, never give an F/Never shit a G”.

As I listen to the album, it reminds me of why The Streets deserved to be performing at Glastonbury this year. Songs like “OMG” and “Puzzled By People” strongly prove my point, as they're able to provide strong lyrical content and value.

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