The Streets – A Grand Don’t Come For Free (2004)

Widely known to have been the album that propelled Mike Skinner’s The Streets project to international recognition, spawning two charting singles (one of which went to number 1 in the UK); the group’s sophomore effort is a concept album based around a few weeks/months in the life of Mike. A day in the life of a geezer, finally recognised as a full blown record. A Grand Don’t Come For Free is one big story, each track crucial to the development of the plot, something which I don’t think most people who have heard “Fit But You Know It” or “Dry Your Eyes” are aware of.

Basically, Mike’s life is going down the shitter. He’s lost a grand’s worth of savings, and things are a mess, but then he meets this total cutie called Simone and over the course of the album, falls in love with her whilst speculating continuously which of his “mates” stole his money. In a twist, Simone turns out to be a bit of a bitch and kicks him out, causing Mike to contemplate cheating on her whilst on a boys holiday in the sun, but when he gets back there’s another twist when Scott reveals that she’s been cheating on him all along with Mike’s pal Dan. Shit, what a drama. The album then presents two separate endings, one of Mike smoking heroin and drinking super Tenants, or one of Scott fixing Mike’s TV, finding an envelope equating to £1000 cash which had fallen down the back of the broken unit. The end.

It’s all a bit daft, but I think what it originally tried to achieve was to expand on the goal of Original Pirate Material, presenting real life “street level” goings on through the medium of garage and hip hop, instead of promoting an unrealistic façade of wealth and excess, which you have to admit a lot of rap music does.

Probably the first Lines In Wax post to feature a UK top 40 number 1 hit. Give it a go. It’s nice like, innit.