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Original Pirate Material was a lightning bolt for UKG, and there aren't many artists out there who have done for UK garage (and British rap) what Mike Skinner did with The Streets and that debut long-play. There are those who took it into the mainstream and those who pushed it into new directions through experimentation—but Mike Skinner did both. And Original Pirate Material is the pinnacle of that.
To start with the obvious, on "Let's Push Things Forward" (which peaked at No. 30 in the singles chart), the refrain literally repeats: You say everything sounds the same, but then you go buy them / There's no excuses, my friend—let's push things forward. It's worth noting that even Pink Floyd guitarist Dave Gilmour praised the release, describing it as "forward-looking and anarchic. It has its own anti-big-company ethos, which I like. And it has strange little quirks of timing that I find very hard to use." Combined with the two preceding tracks ("Turn The Page" and "Has It Come To This?"), this forms the perfect opening for the album.
And from there, we get a wide-ranging but cohesive cross-section of everything that makes up Mike Skinner: there's the grimey stabs of "Same Old Thing" and "The Irony Of It All", the infectious sing-along hook of "Don't Mug Yourself", the dreamy 2-step of "Has It Come To This" (their breakout debut which peaked at No. 18 in the UK singles chart) and "Weak Becomes Heroes"—only to then close out on the more rap-focused "Stay Positive".
Subsequent albums—especially A Grand Don't Come For Free—of course repeated a lot of this brilliance, but this is where it all started and pretty much the entire British music scene owes this album a debt of gratitude.