Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Streets

Michael Geoffery Skinner (born 27 November 1978), more commonly known by his stage name The Streets, is a rapper from Birmingham, England.

Skinner began experimenting with a keyboard when he was five years old. As a teenager, he built a miniature recording studio in his bedroom. He began writing hip hop and garage music in his home in West Heath in Birmingham, with a crew of other rappers including best friend Chris Panton. He describes his background as "Barratt class: suburban estates, not poor but not much money about, really boring." Skinner started making songs at the age of fifteen.

He has suffered from epilepsy since the age of seven.

In the mid-1990s, following secondary education at Bournville School Skinner was a student at Sutton Coldfield College, near Birmingham, and was working in fast food jobs while trying to start his own independent record label and sending off demos.

Despite having been raised in Birmingham, an area with a distinctive regional accent, he speaks with a London-influenced accent. Some critics have accused Skinner of using a "Mockney" accent. He can be heard speaking in his normal accent at the beginning of the song "Fake Streets Hats". Because of his accent, Skinner is identified with Birmingham; a keen supporter of Birmingham City, he even wore the club's replica shirt on stage.

"Has It Come to This?" proved to be a breakthrough hit for the Streets, going top-twenty in March 2001. For his debut album, Original Pirate Material, Skinner wanted to take UK garage in a new direction with material reflecting the lifestyle of clubbers in Britain. The track "Let's Push Things Forward" reflects the philosophy of the album. The album was released and proved to be successful both with critics and the general public alike. In the UK, the album was nominated for the Mercury Prize and was favourite with the bookies to win it (it was later won by Ms. Dynamite). The Streets was nominated for best album, best urban act, best breakthrough artist and best British male artist in the 2002 BRIT Awards. The NME named it as one of their top five albums of 2002.

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