The Streets – Let’s Push Things Forward

11th June 2024 · 2000s, 2002, Hip-Hop, Music

The Streets came out of nowhere, creating kitchen sink dramas of life as a young working-class man in the UK at the turn of the millennium.

I’m not sure what the predominant music genres were around the turn of the millennium; the new century marked a time of new beginnings.

It was the start of the streaming era and the dawn of the dreadful TV talent show period. Meanwhile rap – never a natural fit for Britain – was merging with UK garage to create our home-grown hybrid of grime.

So when Mike Skinner, a working-class white bloke from Birmingham, burst out of the clubs and on to the radio, his conversational, distinctly British take on hip hop was something remarkable and revolutionary.

That debut album, Original Pirate Material – recorded on a laptop with vocals recorded in an empty wardrobe in his London flat – was even nominated for a Mercury Music Prize (losing out to Ms Dynamite) and several Brit awards.

Everyone bought that album and everyone loved this single, Let’s Push Things Forward, with its loping reggae skank and Skinner’s languid Brummie-by-way-of-Brixton flow, somewhere between speaking and singing.

There was none of the braggadocio of rap in his vignettes of urban life: Skinner’s kitchen sink dramas told of being a hard-up working-class young man at that time – staying in/going out, getting stoned/drunk, eating chips/curries/kebabs, and trying to pick up “birds” in pubs and clubs.

It was a breath of fresh air.