375 of 1001 Albums: The Streets’ A Grand Don’t Come for Free

The Streets are an unique rap group. The mixture of rap and instrumentals is unlike anything I’ve heard. Oddly, as the album is supposed to be, I really felt a story about a broken relationship happening even before I picked up on what the lyrics were saying, which turns out to be different than I thought. It also introduced me to the term, rap opera, which I had never heard before. While there is music talent to go around in this album though I do feel it more meant for the love of storytelling rather than listening for a nice beat.

History: The band is definitely more popular in the U.K. They’ve topped charts in their country with the single from this album, “Fit But You Know It” This album does have a story the listener can follow while listening though, and I highly suggest do reading about it or trying to follow to get more into the album. It’s about a guy who has lost a grand and is trying to find a way to get back the money, so the album follows multiple ways he does that.

Vocals: The rapping sounds like a British guy, and he is the main source of what you’re listening to. There is the occasional addition of the female vocal though, which I think heightens the appeal of the album. The rapping works better other times than others, like in the first song on the album, “It Was Supposed to Be Easy”. He does really express emotion in his voice though, which was unexpected.

Instruments: The lead, Mike Skinner, is a multi-instrumentalist, so I am hoping for some great sounds, and I think the instruments are the stronger part of the album. They range from making the album more somber to uplifting as the guy the story is about is trying to get back his money that he lost. There is definitely something movie narrative even in how the instruments are performed. Expect some sounds that also heavily adhere to some electronica as well though.

Recording: The recording of the music is very good, and since it already features so many unique aspects it still doesn’t sound dated. Hopefully it doesn’t sound dated for a while as it was released in 2004. I think the album though has a heavy beat, and when the acoustics come out they are nicely weaved in to pace with the rap. The rapper has such a heavy accent, and it makes it intriguing to listen to.

The Streets are probably one of the better hip hop groups I’ve heard with their mesh of alternative and electronic style mixed into their music. I can’t say this converted me to being a fan of hip hop though as I’m still sitting on the outside of being one who picks up to enjoy in my day to day life. I appreciate the storytelling utilized on the album, and how each song shows a little more to the guy’s life it is going through.

Rating 6 of 10.

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