This is a story of someone who suddenly hit the big time which was very satisfying. Let’s go back to 2001 again. Around this time, it seemed that all of the here today-gone tomorrow bands had names that were “The ….s”. So when The Streets came on to the scene, I thought they were yet another one, but actually this was something rather interesting.
Most rappers around at the time were Americans who gloated about their glamorous lifestyles in their songs, unobtainable to many listeners. But Birmingham-born Mike Skinner, known as The Streets, had a different idea. He also spoke about his life, but it mostly consisted of the PlayStation at home, going out and having a drink and a kebab with friends, it seemed to be more English and relatable.
In October 2001 his debut single “Has It Come To This” was released, and this reached no. 18. I remember really liking this one, and I decided to keep track of his career. In April 2002 debut album “Original Pirate Material” was released, which made the Top Ten. 2002 also brought further decent singles with “Let’s Push Things Forward”, “Weak Become Heroes”, and “Don’t Mug Yourself”. Now he was making magazine covers. He also had a hit in 2003 with side project Grafiti.
Skinner returned in 2004 with “Fit But You Know It”, his first Top Ten single. And then, in July 2004, the big moment. “Dry Your Eyes” was released, and this was a chart-topper, how terrific. I bet he never imagined that would happen when he started out. This was much more sombre and thoughtful than his previous singles, it seemed to strike a chord with a lot of people.
This led to his second album “A Grand Don’t Come For Free” becoming a chart-topper in 2004 too. Again, there were more hits off the album, and in 2005 he won a Brit Award. This meant that by 2006, five years on from his debut, Skinner found himself in a rather curious position. His final Top Ten single “When You Wasn’t Famous” was released in April 2006, followed by the third album “The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living”. If his first album was the “I’m just an ordinary guy” one, this was the “oh my god, I’m famous” one.
It seemed that Skinner wasn’t hugely fond of the spotlight, however many high-profile pop stars now insisted that they were his mate and wanted to collaborate (yes, I mean you, Pete Doherty). Skinner did have a little more success after this, with more albums making the Top Ten, and he is considered a pioneer in his genre, but “Dry Your Eyes” is the one that people will remember the most.