Everything Is Borrowed
Most people experienced shock when listening to U.K. rapper Mike Skinner – also known as the Streets – for the first time. His thickly accented cadence and off-tempo flow on his debut album, Original Pirate Material, sounded bizarre to Americans, as it didn't seem to borrow from traditional hip-hop influences at all, instead drawing from U.K. garage and grime sounds. But even those who came around to his delivery might have a hard time with his latest, Everything Is Borrowed, because it's just so damn sentimental. The title track is a love empowerment jam worthy of a Broadway musical, while elsewhere Skinner discourses seriously on religion, environmentalism and friendship. Considering that once upon a time he was known for humorous stoner anthems, all this may come, again, as a bit of a shock. But listeners who overcome their hipster prejudice against earnest sentiment will find a gem here. Four stars.