Streets | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Crammed with the cheapest of cheap thrills, UK garage is the genre for the ADD generation--flavorless faux dub, meathead drum 'n' bass, nattering techno, and thuggish rap, all in one glossy, trashy package. But London garage MC Mike Skinner, aka the Streets, has smoothed over the drum 'n' bass, ditched the techno, and just generally chilled the fuck out. Granted, it took him a few years to get it right: Skinner's full-length debut, 2002's Original Pirate Material, zoomed around so much it made me dizzy. But his latest, A Grand Don't Come for Free (Vice), is a hip-hopera of sorts, held together by his warm, witty, obsessively detailed stream-of-consciousness storytelling. He loses his savings and meets a lady in the first two tracks, then crushes on her so hard the rest of the world goes fuzzy; next thing you know he's sitting around getting high while she's at work, they're fighting over dumb shit, and he's cheating on her. The sound track is on the same emotional roller coaster as the story, gentle when he's about to break down and rip-roarin' when he's angry--and as a bonus you get sensitive boy-band backing vocals and a song with the word "twat" in the title. (Come on, who doesn't love the way Brits say "twat"?) "Get Out of My House" is particularly funny--the woman playing his special lady goes postal on his lazy ass and he can barely get a word in edgewise. Still, I suspect the fake-ID set will feel let down, since the new record isn't nearly as bangin' or ridiculous as Original Pirate Material. Then again, I've already heard it blasting at Urban Outfitters--maybe the kids will learn to appreciate it. $15, 18+. Wednesday, June 23, 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212.

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