Album: The D.O.T., And That (The Beats)


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You may be wondering, with his former protégé Plan B at the top of his game, why we still need Mike Skinner, a previous generation's white British social-realist rapper. The fact is that, while Ben Drew's forte is surveying the bigger political picture, few songwriters around can zoom in and focus on fine detail as skilfully as Skinner.

The D.O.T. – they won't say what it stands for – is a collaboration between Skinner and Rob Harvey of The Music (a regular guest with The Streets in their final days).

Stylistically, it doesn't break new ground, moving between existential disco, electro-skank and old-skool rave, but that's fine. Thematically, too, it picks up where The Streets left off: there are lyrics about the psychology of fighting, the people in the backgrounds of old photographs and, inevitably, smoking skunk.

What's changed is that Skinner takes a back seat: even the cameos – from 2011's next big thing Clare Maguire and Detroit rap loose cannon Danny Brown – get more microphone time, with Harvey handling nearly all the singing. Nevertheless, it's pleasing for any diehard Streets admirer to know that Mike Skinner's "voice", figuratively speaking, has not been silenced for ever.