Metascore
91

Universal acclaim - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 30
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 30
  3. Negative: 0 out of 30
  1. 100
    On A Grand, everything Skinner does is in service to an infinitely satisfying and resonant whole.
  2. That Skinner is able to coax so much from a cliché-heavy, 50-minute examination of solipsism and self-pity is a tribute to his ability to reflect and illuminate life's detail.
  3. 'A Grand Don't Come For Free' is proof that 'Original Pirate Material' wasn't a happy fluke.
  4. Mike Skinner’s taken a big risk in doing this, but he’s found the bizarre and beautiful meeting point of The Specials, Danny Rampling and Serge Gainsbourg. A Grand Don’t Come For Free is a remarkable record.
  5. Skinner has often been declared the Eminem of British rap. But on A Grand..., he proves that if anything, he's British hip-hop's answer to master storyteller Ray Davies, or maybe idiot savant Brian Wilson.
  6. The production is as dry as old wallpaper. But as a kind of Art Brut storytelling, it is magnificent.
  7. A Grand Don't Come for Free raises the stakes to such an extent that it sounds literally unprecedented: there isn't really any other album like this.
  8. Confronting doubts about his seriousness and squashing whispers about his talent, Skinner has made a sophomore record that expands on what distinguishes the Streets from any other act in music.
  9. 80
    The exact opposite of background music, A Grand Don’t Come for Free demands the same attention as a movie, and that’s why some people will hate it while others will find it uniquely riveting.
  10. Most of the hooks are appalling - a few, sung by Skinner, like 'Such A Twat', and opener 'It Was Supposed To Be So Easy' are enjoyable, but when he lets his mates croon soupily all over his beats, shit gets distinctly unpleasant.
  11. What could be utterly pedestrian, so-what material in the hands of a lesser talent is instead imbued with cheeky mythic significance by Skinner -- blessed with an uninhibited gift for gab and a willingness to reveal all facets of his character, grotty warts included.
  12. The first hip-hop classic of the new millennium.
  13. This makes engrossing listening if the effort suits you, but it's useless as background music.
  14. Okay, so it's not the most revolutionary concept album, but the raw energy and mad buzz make it one that's easy to get hooked on.
  15. Even the grand indulgence in artistic artifice on A Grand Don't Come For Free -- its self-contained narrative -- seems like it's forsaking a long shelf-life, the downside of the story's "mystery" being that, once you've heard the yarn once, it's a little like you've heard it all, and all it has to offer.
  16. With this record, Skinner is now in a class all his own; nobody else is making music like this.
  17. Skinner’s finely honed sense of place still has a nearly hypnotic effect.
  18. Upping his narrative ante, Skinner goes all-in on Grand, a bold follow-up that sounds beguilingly slight and dry until details start sketching its story.
  19. Skinner seems both edgier and more contemplative.
  20. The beats aren't as strong here as they were on his debut, so Skinner lives and dies by his delivery. It's a clear sign of his ability that even in the album opener, when the tempo is strange and the backing track is kind of dull, you feel compelled to listen because you want to know what he's saying.
  21. What hasn't gone away is Skinner's ability to put you right there, in the middle of the action, and that goes for his production as well as his lyrics.
  22. The problem with "A Grand Don't Come for Free" is that the pieces often work better as stories than as songs.... But it is still a thrill to hear Mr. Skinner toy with the form that he invented.
  23. 100
    An essential listen for anyone interested in where music might take them. [Jun 2004, p.86]
  24. The best album of 2004 so far, and by some distance. [Jun 2004, p.92]
  25. Has as much to do with Ray Davies as it does with hip hop and garage. [Jul 2004, p.148]
  26. 80
    A Grand… isn't as immediate and vivacious as its predecessor. But credit to Skinner for pushing things forward; he remians one of the most compelling voices in British pop culture. [May 2004, p.94]
  27. Is both simpler--in sound and scope--than Pirate and much more ambitious. [27 May 2004, p.80]
  28. 70
    11 frenetic, oddball, and extremely original tracks. [Jun 2004, p.154]
  29. Isn't likely to convert, say, your average Jay-Z fan.... Yet it works, and even seems refreshingly exotic. [21 May 2004, p.77]
User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 200 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 17 out of 126
  1. LaviniaH
    Jan 19, 2007
    10
    loved it
  2. rogers
    Jul 28, 2005
    10
    This CD is incredible. I can listen to it all the time and get something new from it. To Trust or not to Trust that is the name of the Game.
  3. elainec
    May 24, 2004
    9
    complete original anybody who slates this album will be eating their words in years to come, a sure classic!!!