Twenty-two-year-old, one-man-band Englishman Mike Skinner counts himself as a true from-The-Streets mug -- not really Florence and Normandy, but not exactly Carnaby or Oxford either. With Original Pirate Material, Skinner (as The Streets) declared himself the voice of the geezer -- the latest in a lineage of British pop musicians from Ray Davies to Tricky to attempt to put on vinyl the thoughts, hopes and nightmares of working-class, urban British youth. And, like many of his forebears' concoctions, OPM exploded, Skinner's lumpy mix of U.K. garage beats, hip-hop flow and pub language (he single-handedly stole the word "Oi" back from punk) making him a superstar at home and a cause celebre amongst U.S. critics and hipsters desperate for anything different.
Which is fine, really, because OPM is also totally fucking brilliant: funny, poppy, tough and, crucially, honestly run-of-the-pub. The problem is that Skinner hasn't proven that he's got any more in him, and despite its considerable strengths, All Got Our Runnins won't do much more than satiate the hungry fans.
Yet fact is, that's all it's meant to be, an EP comprised of U.K. singles material to hold the attention of the U.S. music world. And it's great stuff: The Ashley Beedle remix of "Weak Become Heroes" becomes the ultimate paean to acid house it was meant to be; "All Got Our Runnins" is straight OPM outtake stuff ("I can't pay the rent but I've got 109-pound trainers on"); and mad-genius garage toaster Dizzee Rascal tears "Let's Push Things Forward" a new opening on this version.
Still, we know about all of this -- many fans probably have it all already. In Skinner's own critical language from The Streets' anthem "Let's Push Things Forward," "You say that everything sounds the same / then you go buy them / there's no excuses my friend / let's push things forward."