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Original Pirate Material

EMAILPRINTby The Streets

The Streets reviews
8.9 User Score:

Album Info

Label: Locked On / Vice

Release Date: 22 October 2002

Discs: 1 disc

Genre(s): Rap, Garage, Electronic


This is the debut album by the London garage (or in this case, bedroom) band, which consists solely of 21-year-old Mike Skinner. Whether or not this style of music (very English rapping over garage/house beats) will translate well overseas remains to be seen, but garage (and especially Skinner) is the current flavor of the month with the UK music press.

What The Critics Said

All critic scores are converted to a 100-point scale. If a critic does not indicate a score, we assign a score based on the general impression given by the text of the review. Learn more...



Original Pirate Material, to put it plainly, is the most vivid evocation of life as a young person in the UK since Blur's Parklife, and yes, even The Clash's first album.

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2002's first REAL classic.

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Entertainment Weekly

By adding grit and gutter-savvy humor, Skinner also takes U.K. garage to a new level, making for the year's most striking debut.

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The first record in a long while I've wanted to play again immediately after it's finished. [Album Of The Month, April 2002, p.92]


Village Voice (Consumer Guide)

There's plenty of detail, and feeling too--not just anger, tenderness.

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Village Voice

Original Pirate Material is England's first great hip-hop record mostly because it isn't a hip-hop record. It's hard to say exactly what it is.

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An album whose scope, diversity, wit and heart make it instantly the best album of 2002.

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Like many great albums, "Original Pirate Material" wasn't meant to be adored in an instant, so don't let your first impressions fool you. This cat's the real deal.

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Dot Music

What 'Original Pirate Material' makes abundantly clear though, is that - whilst Skinner may not be at the very cutting edge of Garage's club soundtrack - he's a man blessed with an astonishing aptitude for pop and a mainline into the Zeitgeist.

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All Music Guide

Though club-phobic listeners may find it difficult placing Skinner as just the latest dot along a line connecting quintessentially British musicians/humorists/social critics Nöel Coward, the Kinks, Ian Dury, the Jam, the Specials, and Happy Mondays, Original Pirate Material is a rare garage album: that is, one with a shelf life beyond six months.

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The Onion (A.V. Club)

Heard as a rap album, Original Pirate Material provides a compelling picture of the style wrapping itself around a different milieu. But taken on his own terms, Skinner reaches too deep and true to sound like anything but a remarkable talent in any genre.

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It's his lyrical earnestness that makes his decidedly British experience so universally appealing. [Nov 2002, p.76]


Trouser Press

[A] blindingly good debut.

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E! Online

Throughout the disc, his attention to detail and melody stretch well beyond his 22 years.

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Though it sounds strange at first, Skinner's delivery is so absorbing that the accent issue will be an afterthought before opener "Turn the Page" has ended.

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The most distinctive producer-rapper Britain has coughed up since Tricky. [#11, p.143]


Rolling Stone

On the evidence of this excellent debut, few people can challenge Skinner right now except himself.

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New Musical Express

By turns dark, funny and heartbreaking, the songs on 'Original Pirate Material' are snapshots of ordinary life as a young midlands resident, set to innovative two-step production.

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Alternative Press

While Original Pirate Material isn't as good as the U.K. press hyperbole would have us believe, it does prove that sentiment and sincerity are more interesting than slickness and skills. [Dec 2002, p.96]



A winningly downbeat brand of urban realism, set to minimal, pounding drums. [Apr 2002, p.115]


Q Magazine

The odd portentous lapse and minor clunker aside, the rate of killer lines is remarkably high. [Mar 2002, p.115]


The Wire

His verbal style is notable because it avoids typical ragga chat or MC freestyling in favour of an almost literary blend of prose and verse. [#219, p.75]



Skinner has an obvious talent for forging damn sharp hip-pop hooks that supercede his inherent verbal handicap.

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The Streets' novel pairing of dance music and wordplay hits the mark more often than not, and it's a step in a potentially interesting direction. [Nov 2002, p.93]


In the midst of its 14 tracks, there are a couple that, if taken on their own, would qualify as throwaways. But the way the album should be heard, as a whole, each piece works with the others.

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What Our Users Said

The average user rating for this album is 8.9 (out of 10) based on 155 User Votes

Note: User votes are NOT included in the Metascore calculation.

James V gave it a0:
Music for those that know nothing about music.

Matt C gave it a9:
Mark G. I guess that American hiphop is much better? Much better to talk about pimps, 40's and hoes This is what is wrong about society, people complaining for the wrong reasons!

daniel w gave it a10:
Brilliant. the music i normally listen to is rock music, but this album is absolutely fantastic.

Bibiane N gave it a10:
WONDERFUL. Amazingly, surprisingly goog album!

Brian L gave it a0:
Some silly brit speaking childish rhymes off paper with garage beats. Critics confuse me. Along with everyone who gave this album above a 7.

Mark G gave it a2:
I'm mystified by people who call this 'music' timeless. I struggle to think of a record more explicitly grounded in time and place for its resonance. Hopefully when people have stopped injecting themselves with heroin, finding lyrics about chips and lager 'meaningful' and generally just labeling anything as 'genius' as long as it comes from a working class background, maybe we can all evolve...

Jay C gave it a9:
Got this album when it came out and have just dusted it off again. I've spent most of my life listening to rock and metal, tho spent my earlier years listenng to rap, hip hop, r 'n' b etc. As a musical purist (in the way that I prefer music to be played live with real instruments) I slated any unimaginative, mindless rap over repetitive "beats" but the streets' first two albums have a special place in my heart. Yes I am English. That has nothing to do with it. Mike delivers original tunes with funny, down-to-earth lyrics without the pretentious b*tches, hoes, and bling-mobiles that we all so much hate about the current black music scene. Both first two albums always did have and always wil have a special place in my heart

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