Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rise of the Rappers Has Robbie on the Hop

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rise of the Rappers Has Robbie on the Hop

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRIS MILLAR

IT'S SET to be the year of the rapper. Hip-hop star Nelly took home six US Billboard awards today while here in Britain Mike Skinner, a relative unknown, is set to trounce Robbie Williams at the Brit Awards.

Mike Skinner, who performs as The Streets, is believed to be up for awards in the best newcomer, best album, best video and best male performer categories.

But Williams, who has signed an pound sterling80million deal with EMI Records, has been nominated in just one category - best male performer - even though his album Escapology was released in time for the nominations.

The contrast between the two artists could hardly be greater. While Williams recorded Escapology in the world's finest studios with the help of master songwriter Guy Chambers, 23-year-old Skinner made his debut album Original Pirate Material in his bedroom in Brixton, using stolen equipment.

The Birmingham- born rapper, dubbed Britain's answer to Eminem, struggled for years to gain a record deal, funding his bedroom recordings by working part-time in Burger King.

Of his distinctive British sound and lyrics, Skinner said: "I realised that being yourself is the best way to go, so the hip-hop became more English. Instead of talking about broads, I started writing about drinking Stellas and eating full English breakfasts. The style I've got now was an executed move, something that I thought would work."

A year ago, his single Has It Come To This? received constant radio airplay and won him a recording deal with WEA. His album Original Pirate Material was widely tipped to win the Mercury Music Prize in September, and was praised by the judging panel as "articulating in words, music and beats what it is like to be young and British in 2002".

Skinner was beaten by fellow British rapper Ms Dynamite, but if he dominates next year's Brits it will confirm him as one of Britain's brightest new talents. …

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