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The Streets:: The hardest way to make an easy living (Album Giveaway) and Vice Recording is giving away a vinyl copy of the new album from THE STREETS! (UPDATE: We are giving away 3 vinyl prize packs The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living + swag) The rules to enter are very simple just send an email to kingblind(at) with THE STREETS in the subject line and your name and address in the body of the message. Remember, No Subject line and no address= No Win. So just follow these simple rules.

About The Streets:
The Streets’ first album – 2002’s Brit Award and Mercury Prize nominated Original Pirate Material – was a brilliantly witty and original snapshot of 21st century reality. It was also the next step forward for the great tradition of British pop songwriting which stretches from The Who and The Kinks, to Madness and The Specials, to Blur and Pulp. And a record with the power to unite the disparate tribes of UK dance music – the ravers, the hip-hop heads, the garagistas – in heartfelt appreciation of the joy and pain of the queue for a late-night kebab.

But the appeal of Original Pirate Material didn’t stop at the English Channel. The Streets’ infectious honesty (“You think I’m ghetto? Stop dreaming”) and snappily homespun production techniques have struck a chord with sharp-eared listeners all around the world, to the extent that the album has so far sold more than a million copies – reaching audiences as far afield as Brazil and Japan, and going top 30 in the US.

Two years on, with a whole new generation of sharp-tongued UK MC’s (from Dizzee Rascal a to Lady Sovereign) paying tribute to his influence, Mike Skinner is back. And within the first five seconds of his new single “Fit But You Know It” – a riotous celebration of package-holiday mating rituals destined to cause carnage on Europe’s dancefloors (All together now: “I reckon you’re about an eight or a nine, maybe even a nine and a half in four beers’ time”) – it’s already clear that he’s not just come up with a worthy successor to Original Pirate Material. He’s solved rap’s notorious “second album problem” into the bargain.

“Hip-hop”, Mike Skinner says, over an unusually abstemious Coke in his Stockwell local, “draws on different principles to other music. It’s not purely sonic pleasure: it’s conflict and action and story. It’s our old way of making records – which is rhythm and noise – combined with a little bit of The A-Team, and I love that. The problem is, it tends to hit a brick wall with the second album. When you listen to 50 Cent, you’re hearing a guy who you imagine goes around getting shot, and he doesn’t really – well, he did, but now he’s doing pretty much the same as I am: being interviewed, collecting awards, going to parties. And the big question is, how to hang on to that excitement you had before becoming successful, without pretending you’re still doing things you’re actually not?”

In May 2004 we’ll find out exactly how Skinner has hung on to this excitement when his hugely anticipated second album “A Grand Don’t Come For Free” hits the shelves. The album is a collection of songs linked together by a plots and subplots that whilst still reflecting the typical life of normal young Britain, shifts the overall focus from the society overviews of “Original Pirate Material” to the more personal, everyday twists of relationships, friendship and just getting by.

A Grand Don’t Come For Free was made in exactly the same way as its illustrious predecessor. That is, with Skinner working mostly at home, “supplying his own samples” (for example that savage glam-punk guitar on “Fit But You Know It” is not some horribly mangled offshoot of David Bowie’s “Jean Genie”, it’s Mike riffing it up on a borrowed Fender Telecaster), and friends coming back from the pub to contribute occasional background mayhem.

Beneath the bubbling stream-of-consciousness lyrics for which he is justifiably renowned (“and I’m thinkin’… and I’m thinkin…”), The Streets’ uniquely rough-edged production continues to rearrange the building blocks of the last fifteen years of dance music into bold and unexpected new shapes. Acid’s random bleeps, the euphoric piano sound of Italian House. Jungle’s spiralling sub-bass, Trance’s psychotropic drum surge, UK Garage’s sexy string stabs: they’re all in here somewhere, just in a very different order to the one they originally evolved in.

The only thing that’s really changed, in terms of the music, is the singing line-up. Wayney G and grimy Nottinghamshire garage siren C-Mone ably fill the story’s supporting roles, and with former vocal foil Kevin Mark Trail having signed a solo deal with EMI, there’s a new right-hand man – Leo second name to follow – emoting up a storm throughout soulful choruses about half-finished packets of Rizla’s.

Listen to A Grand Don’t Come For Free for the first time on the bus home or taking a sick dog to the vets, and all the little details will seep into your mind the same way sherry flavours a trifle. But put it on through headphones in the early hours of the morning and a whole imaginative new world opens up. Just as it did on first hearing Massive Attack’s Blue Lines or Dizzee Rascal’s Boy In Da Corner – or, indeed, The Streets’ Original Pirate Material.

MIKE SKINNER- Vocals, Production

The Streets – Get Out Of My House (MC Remix)