The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living Image
Metascore
72

Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics What's this?

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7.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 29 Ratings

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  • Summary: Unlike his previous release (which told an album-length story about a fictitious character), Mike Skinner's third Streets album is autobiographical in nature, dealing with the myriad problems that result from being rich and famous.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 36
  2. Negative: 1 out of 36
  1. His comic timing and mixture of slangs--not to mention his musical conception... are all so much more fully developed that he's actually made a record that's fun to play in the background.
  2. Throughout, Skinner's production is more precise, his hooks more pointed and polished, and his writing more clever and poignant. [#13, p.89]
  3. 80
    Although some of his lyrical tricks might sound a little familiar this time round, he remains one of Britain's great storytellers. [Jun 2006, p.104]
  4. Lovable -- and occasionally infuriating. [24 Apr 2006]
  5. Not only are there scattered moments of lyrical brilliance on The Hardest Way, but from a producerly standpoint, it's probably Skinner's most accomplished and interesting record yet.
  6. 60
    When The Streets gets lazy, he becomes less of an artist and more like a novelty. [May 2006, p.80]
  7. The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living is an exercise in empty nothingness. But it’s not Bacchanalian coked-out excess nothingness, it's the joyless hollow-eyed actions of a man who is waiting for the next fix and doesn't care what bullshit has to come out of his lips in order to get paid.

See all 36 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 16
  2. Negative: 3 out of 16
  1. Duncan
    Aug 3, 2006
    10
    Brilliant. His best album yet.
  2. AlexN
    Apr 27, 2006
    10
    Critics love to criticise. It's the sad realities of the world. The fact is, have a read of the reviews. The bias is clear. Those that hate it feel that way before they've even heard it. The mere fact that it is a fame album makes them roll their eyes and go "h3ll no" before they've even given it a chance. Truth is, scratch the surface and you'll see that nothing has really changed. Mike is still doing drugs (Prangin' Out meets Blinded By The Lights), getting dumped (All Goes Out The window meets Dry Your Eyes), chasing birds (War Of The Sexes meets Fit But You Know It), engaing in drink and drug fuelled boyish excesses (Hotel Expressionism meets Too Much Brandy) and contemplating the boredom and meaning of his daily realities (Momento Mori meets Same Old Thing). He just happens to be telling the same old stories from the perspective of a very rich man. That's all. Expand
  3. DavidC
    May 7, 2006
    9
    I'm not a lover of "rap". I own some Jurassic 5 CD's but that's about it. The Streets appeal to a wider audience because Mike's lyrics (as with those of Arctic Monkeys) speak to the concerns of your average Brit. Listening to his albums, I laugh, I cry; these songs speak to me in a way no other artist?s work does. His Dad would indeed be proud. Expand
  4. Kelvin
    Apr 25, 2006
    8
    A lot will be written about how bad this album is. About how Mike Skinner has lost his way. About how he has let fame go to his head. I will disagree with all of it. With The Streets, Mike Skinner has always told it how it is. He's a chronicler. A modern day Shakespeare. An observer of today's society and more importantly, its youth culture. But he's no longer the poor, anoynmous, everyday geezer. He's now a very rich and very visible man. And if he had tried to write another album about how much it sucks being broke, no doubt the derision and cynicism would have been even sharper, had Mike attempted to spin such yarns with a bulging wallet sticking out of his inside coat pocket. The fact of the matter is, this album is just as observant and just as 'real' as his previous two stellar works. As NME said in their review, "it is an album about fame that people who aren't famous can relate to". How true. Because this album explores the question that we have all asked at one time or another. What would life be like if I had a lot of money, and were really quite visible? For me, what makes this album work is that there is no disconnect between Mike and myself. Never once does it come across like the musings of a pampered celebrity, who considers himself to be above my lowly station in life. He's still the geezer. That guy that you know from across the road. You know the type. The one that has all the witty anecdotes, knows a million funny stories and always has a clever scheme on the go. His personality hasn't changed. Only his day-to-day realities. The album still sports scenarios that we can all relate to. Love, loss, chat up techniques, con jobs, gambling addictions, gross materialism, binge drinking, excessive consumption of narcotics and the death of loved one's. And you smile and shake your head at the antics of this loveable scamp, because you know in your heart of hearts that if you were in the same position, you would probably do the exact same things. But it's not all doom and gloom, like most celebrity tirades tend to be. The album is very eclectic in its tone, with a good mix between the serious, the slapstick, the sombre, and all points in between. If nothing else, this album is superior to the first two, from a technical perspective. The production has been upped, and no longer sports that rough and ready DIY style that he has employed in the past. Whether you consider this to be a good or a bad thing is up to yourself. I look at it as healthy progression. He is, after all, three albums in now. In saying that, however, the beats are still made up of the familiar Streets trademarks of low, rumbling basslines, lush piano chords, hard-driving guitar riffs and trance samples. Similarly, his vocals and delivery have been ramped up to another level as well. He's now almost genuinely rapping at times, such is the newfound pace, energy and flow of his delivery. Clearly a sign of a man confident in his craft. To sum up, don't let the rushed reviews and soundbites fool you. This isn't the celebrity moan that you've been led to believe that it is. There's a good 50-50 split here between such tracks, and his more standard observational ones. On the point of the latter, look out for War Of The Sexes, Can't Con An Honest John, Never Went To Church and Two Nations. If you fear that Mike Skinner has lost touch with the people, then they should put your mind at ease. In saying that, however, this album was inevitable. Hip hop music is based primarily on the device of young, ordinary people and their lives. So when the artist becomes rich, it poses a songwriting quandry, one that is usually solved by writing about life after success. I don't think that this album should be slammed for that alone. True, it's not as good or as essential as his first two efforts, but on its own merits, it's every bit as witty, clever and ultimately, as relatable as they were. I highly recommend it. 8/10.... report this review Expand
  5. Constant
    May 5, 2006
    7
    Nice effort, arguably as good as the previous one, though it can't recover the freshness of the first album. And I love the way Mike embodies the UK embassador. Who would have thought you could decently rap with a Brummie accent? Amazing how wicked it sounds though, this guys proves a Brit flow is way much better than plain American. Watch Albion, that's where things are happening now... Expand
  6. jw
    May 28, 2006
    4
    The fall is pronounced this time. Whereas "A Grand.." was mostly just a different animal (as Jarrod suggests below, an 8 to follow the 10 of "Pirate Material"), this one simply does not measure up. I haven't listened to it enough yet to let it grow on me, but I don't foresee it doing much good. Only "Two Nations" brings to mind past glory, and a 1 to 1 album-to-good-song ratio never makes one feel good about the purchase. Buy the first two, avoid this one. Expand
  7. BoL
    Apr 26, 2006
    0
    This guy is crap. Nothing creative in his beats. Nothing creative in his flow. Just awkward talking. I am missing the beauty of this white boy. I think white folks are just looking for the next great white hope that Eminem used to be. Expand

See all 16 User Reviews