While material was originally pirated and a grand didn't come for free, Mike Skinner returns with his trademark high jinks drenched in a more honest, lyrically elevated fashion with The Hardest Way to Make An Easy Living. For the past two albums, A Grand Don't Come For Free (2004) and Original Pirate Material (2002), The Streets delivered raging, bipolar antics fixated between shagg-adelic times, drink-til-dawn rebellion and soft, reflective defeatism. Not that anything has changed (except, well, becoming world famous in the span of three years), but the latest record cleans up well, offering a polished version of the lad that has been referred to as Britain's Eminem or "answer to Ray Davies."
The new project features gems such as "Hotel Expressionism," a sophisticated roundup that declares the "fine art" of luxury, while the highlighted first single, "When You Wasn't Famous," expresses a ruckus of what it's like to mingle with the opposite sex amidst stardom. "War of the Sexes" then illustrates the double standard between genders. As a matured playmaker in the white rap game, The Hardest Way to Make An Easy Living sets a new standard for Skinner without eliminating his raw make. Perhaps such elimination is possible, but why would we want to do that?