The headphone-wearing public was caught by surprise by Mike (The Streets) Skinner's brilliant debut quasi-rap album, Original Pirate Material. The disc is an uproarious celebration of domestic Cockney stoner culture, driven by slippery, variant breakbeats that keep the rump shaking.
Skinner's full-length follow-up, A Grand Don't Come for Free, is as bad as his debut is good, breaking absolutely zero new ground lyrically or musically. It's fucking horrible, rendering a second play-through excruciating. Skinner's life as a philandering, Sega-playing Pirate was never really interesting, just amusing. And here, the Brit takes himself way, way too seriously. The beats never climb beyond first gear, and how intrigued you are by the lyrics depends on how much you like the word "fit," which is uttered at least 783 times throughout the course of the album's eleven bland tracks.
Actually, there are two good tracks, but so what? There were maybe two good jokes in Broken Lizard's cinematic journey to Hell, Club Dread, but that's not what you took away from the multiplex. The comedy troupe's earlier Super Troopers was such a surprising blast of comic genius that it made you want more, more, more. Ditto Skinner's Pirate. And in both instances, the sophomore efforts are absolute duds. Had both works been debuts, the critique would, admittedly, not be nearly so harsh. But enough with the spliffs and annoying faux-Jamaican backup singers, Mike. Switch back to coke, mate. Do a lot of it, and then make an album that evokes that drug.
Listening to Skinner smoke rag weed in his scruffy flat is getting old. The flat's likely not all that scruffy anymore after the success of Pirate, given the ensuing critical fellatio. Skinner's average schmo scene is, therefore, tired as an Alaskan malamute in the dead of summer. What Skinner's made is a totally forgettable album that should make its way to airport parking-garage elevators in short order. Skinner's next effort will determine whether he's Eminem or House of Pain. The jury's hung right now. Oi, oi and ouch.