57.) The Streets - Original Pirate Material (2002)

I remember listening to Original Pirate Material incessantly in winter of 2002. I was, inexplicably, teaching seventh grade and living at home at the time. I'm not sure what these things have to do with Original Pirate Material's impact on me - but there you have it. I'm setting a scene, you know?

Maybe I was a pleeb as it related to hip hop at the time, but Original Pirate Material was like nothing I had ever heard. It was sparse - you couldn't actually dance to it. It was amateurish, like couldn't anyone do this? Well, maybe - but Mike Skinner (The Streets) had this innate charm about him. He seemed like he was your pal.

I used to go to this local pub in my hometown a lot during that winter. I would just show up. I wouldn't necessarily make plans to meet people there, I'd just go and more often than not there was someone there to talk to. It was kind of great. I am always reminded of this time when I revisit Original Pirate Material and not just because it was sound tracking that time of my life, but rather because that's the scene Skinner paints. Original Pirate Material, at its core, is a record about a guy and a scene - but not necessarily an extraordinary guy - just a regular one who smokes cigarettes and drinks pints with his mates (Skinner's British). That's basically what I was doing too and who I was. I could really relate to it at the time.

I've loved other Streets records, most notably A Grand Don't Come For Free, but OPM was just one of those records that I found at a time when I needed it. I wasn't unhappy - far from it actually - but it was certainly that transition period in my life. 22 and unsure of what to do. I could have kept going and there would have been nothing wrong with that - but I didn't and I'm still not sure if it was the right choice. I love OPM because it reminds me of the kid I was at 22...and because it's really quite awesome.

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