Since the new album's release last month, the US press has enjoyed taking the piss out of triple-platinum UK rapper Mike Skinner and his band the Streets. The critics' major beef: crap rap rhythms; less cohesion than the prior epic A Grand Don't Come for Free; and conspicuous consumption of cocaine. Too bad the 37-minute Hardest Way ... still outdances and outwits 99 percent of its competitors. Why? 'Cos we were the ones who invented the language, the Englishman sings in the half-joking chorus to "Two Nations." Skinner tells rhyming stories with rhetorical points, and an everyman perspective, yet still gets asses shaking. So why the lack of respect? Does he need to take a bullet first? Skinner thinks so: Biggie, man, God bless America and that /but you, like, keep killing all your best talent ... /The word 'whack' means to cum back home/and I wrote the ten whack commandments on my own.
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