Mike Skinner, aka The Streets, turns 35 today (Nov 27). Here’s 50 geeky facts you might not know about the rapper, starting with his environmental leanings. Skinner believes climate change will have a serious effect on the planet. “I do have a sense that the world will end. I’m not sure whether that makes me clinically depressed but I am aware how delicate our little bubble is,” he said in 2008.
The youngest sibling of a salesman and hospital worker, he once said “I never lived in a block of flats, but I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth either” attending Bournville School and Sutton Coldfield College.
A proud supporter of Birmingham City, he frequently wears the clubs colours and shirts on stage.
Leaving the West Midlands behind in 2000, he sought pastures new and moved to Brixton to pursue his music career. He still lives in South London today.
Skinner and other half of new-ish project The D.O.T. Rob Harvey are both tea connoisseurs. “It’s hard to speak for both of us but we have a very similar work ethic and love for high quality tea. Teapigs make some of the best”.
Skinner recorded debut album (‘Original Pirate Material’) in his bedroom on his laptop. The album was released in 2001. The whole process would cost just under £4000.
The album would go on to be nominated for a Mercury Prize in 2002, but lost out to Ms. Dynamite’s A Little Deeper.
When he started writing he sound proofed his bedroom using an old mattress and his own wardrobe and cupboard.
‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’, was acclaimed by many to be his finest work, giving him his first number one in the UK charts.
Mike Skinner once received an emu’s egg as a gift from a fan at a gig. “An Emu’s egg. Brought to me backstage. It was because we did a song called “The Way of the Dodo,” he explained.
He’s had a few blank memory patches in his career: “I remember doing ‘Don’t Mug Yourself’ on Top Of The Pops and being so off my face that it was virtually an out-of-body experience”. The song itself reflects on conversations by young men in nearly every UK pub in the evening.
His teenage years would be heavily influenced by De La Soul & Beastie Boys.
The Streets first worldwide adventure took them to Japan as a support act, to none less than The Libertines.
Skinner and Doherty remain good friends to this day, and he attempted to get him to feature on single ‘When You Wasn’t Famous’, but it fell through.
Mike finally got his man and Pete featured on track ‘Prangin Out’.
If you listen closely enough to opening track ‘Turn The Page’, you can hear his mum telling him to turn the music down, it’s dinner time!.
Fourth album ‘Everything Is Borrowed’ was “dark and futuristic” drawing inspiration from a synthesizer museum he visited after a gig in Graz, Austria.
Like the majority of us, Skinner has a love of White & Pinkman:”If no one had ever invented flat-screen TV’s, I’d never have been able to enjoy Breaking Bad”.
Skinner ended ‘The Streets’ in 2011, claiming he has “run out of avenues” with the band. Final album ‘Computers and Blues’ was released at the start of the year. The ‘Blues’ part in reference to his beloved Birmingham City Football Club.
‘The Streets’ bid farewell to the UK with a memorable performance at the NME stage at Reading Festival 2011, Skinner ending the show by exposing his buttocks to festival goers.
Dry your eyes though, our favourite observational poet returned soon after with new project THE D.O.T with collaborations from ‘The Music’ frontman Rob Harvey, the following year.
Skinner’s not a fan of Twitter: “Twitter was good for a while, but it’s quite time-consuming and stressful, and it kills you in the end because you’re constantly reacting all day”.
His acting career failed to take off after a brief cameo appearance in Doctor Who in episode ‘The Time Of Angels’.
Last year, Mike proclaimed he’s no fan of Blur frontman Damon Albarn: ”Albarn needs to stop. His music is ‘I’m a bit mad’, it just doesn’t work. Unfortunately, my music is a bit mad (too)”.
Skinner had kinder words for Noel Gallagher: “Noel Gallagher has always just stood there and sung a song, and I think you can do that right until the middle age.”
Skinner has expressed his distaste for prominent electronic artist Aphex Twin . “Don’t get me started on the Aphex Twin, though. He’s an absolute knob-jockey. I’m not generally one for speaking harshly of other musicians, but he’s been quite vocal in his distaste for the Streets over the years, so fair’s fair.”
Skinner on 50 Cent: “When you listen to 50 Cent, you’re hearing a guy who imagine goes around getting shot, and he doesn’t really – well, he did, but now he’s doing pretty much the same thing as I am: being interviewed, collecting awards, going to parties”.
The Brummie has been diagnosed with M.E, otherwise known as chronic fatigue syndrome. According to the NHS, approximately 250,000 Brits also suffer.
Mike closed The Streets’ website the day final album ‘Computers And Blues’ was released to signify the end of the bands tenure. Suffice to say, his record label were not pleased at this promotional suicide.
Last year, autobiography ‘The Story On The Streets’ was released containing previously unseen images from Skinners childhood and intimate details about his transformation into adolescence. “I used to get robbed a lot,” Skinner admits. “Walking around town (Birmingham) as a kid, you’d just get people demanding money off you all the time”.
In 2006, Mike pulled out of the New York marathon just hours before due to a torn muscle injury despite months of training. In result, he said he was ‘fucking gutted’ about the decision on his MySpace page.
He suffered from epilepsy as a child, which affected his live performance. He now controls it with medication.
Even during his heightened success and popularity, Skinner was always prepared to go back the underground scene and worked with MC’s such as Kano & Bruza. Skinner featured on Kano’s 2005 track ‘Nite Nite’.
He openly admits to being influenced by Neil Strauss’s novel ‘The Game’, which delved into the world of men who devote their lives into seducing women.
His manager once told him to “stop fucking pop stars…there are industry repercussions” his response: “It’s a romantic gesture”. When Mike has been previously asked who by the press, he has declined to comment.
MFSB’s Love Is A Message is his favourite disco track of all time.
In 2010, he married Claire Le Marquand in France with the request of Northern Soul to be played at his wedding. The best moment of his wedding he says was the DJ closing with ‘(Europe -)The Final Countdown’.
Skinner released a song making light of the Swine Flu Pandemic in 2009. Skinner self released the song after his label refused due to it’s controversial content.
Whilst in education, Mike left his job at Burger King for a better prospect at Marks & Spencers.
On the name, Skinner’s said: “When you think of ‘The Streets’, you think of Wu-Tang-Clan in New York or something”.
In terms of social class, he ranked his upbringing in the ‘Barratt Class’, not working nor middle class: “suburban estates, not poor but not too much money about. Just really boring”.
Before The Streets even ended, Mike told NME in 2008 on one day resurrecting the band:” Maybe when I’m forty and broke I might come back, but that all feels a bit pants”.
Skinner is no longer close with former label-mate Professor Green. Professor Green left Skinner’s Beat Records after alleging poor management. He doesn’t blame Skinner and is a huge admirer of his work.
Fan favourite ‘Dry Your Eyes’ was nearly re-released with Coldplay’s Chris Martin, but record labels talked him into sense and the song never surfaced. It was recorded in Primrose Hill, London.
Skinner wrote nine tracks for the soundtrack to The Inbetweeners Movie. “When you’re writing for a film, you’re not thinking, “What do people want?” You go into another personality. The Inbetweeners had to be quite derivative and it had to sound like they were in Tenerife or Malia – it was supposed to have been Malia but they shot a lot of it in Tenerife – so you can’t really experiment.”
After his father’s passing in 2004, he sought solace heavily in alcohol and cocaine. At the end of the year he travelled Africa with his mother.
Mike’s a massive Tom Morello/Rage Against The Machine fan. Fair to say he was left a bit gutted after he barged past him at Rock Am Ring festival
Surprisingly, Skinner didn’t attend many gigs of famous rappers when growing up. The only exception he recalls was seeing Busta Rhymes at Aston Villa leisure centre.
The Streets have been remixed by artists including Nero, Guillemots, Diplo, JD Reid, King Krule and have remixed Bloc Party. Skinner and co. have also covered songs by Arctic Monkeys and Red Hot Chilli Peppers while on tour.
At an American show Skinner once dared a fan to down six brandies in front of the 2000-strong audience. He did so with gusto. Have a good one, Mike!