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Book description
I just finished reading Mike Skinners 10 year autobiography - The Story of The Streets which won the NME best book award in 2012. Its the first autobiography that ive read in about five years and I found it engaging, funny, honest and highly inspirational. I usually go for literary fiction, classics and non-fiction but Im definitely going to be picking up more autobiographies from now on in hope that they will have a similar effect on me as this book did.On the inside cover a quote from Skinner himself reads, This book is going to try and get as close as possible to the full story of what informed the noise of The Streets. Obviously thats something I should be fairly well-qualified to know about, and Im going to be as honest as the publishers lawyers will allow.This modern day account from the man that the Guardian once dubbed half Dostoevsky . . . half Samuel Pepys gives a hilarious, witty and illuminating saga of how one talented and obsessive young man from Birmingham rose to fame and subsequently dealt with that across a ten year period. Skinner spins his tale about living in Bermingham and London, fleeing to Australia when he was 22 in pursuit of a secretary whom he had a fling with but ended up on a binge for a year and found himself in the process. Going on to make his first hit single Has it come to this? (which has always been a personal favorite...) on a laptop. He covers a lot of ground in this book and provides us with some good proverbs and life lessons too. He speaks freely about the hardships of growing up in gritty Birmingham, getting mugged on buses and beaten to a pulp in public parks, making rap beats for Jamaican guys from his neighbourhood, the Peak and fall of the UK Garage scene and the clubs that inspired Original Pirate Material. He delves deep into the world of music production and goes into great detail about a variety of techniques, but does so in a fashion that would engage even the most un-musical of people. He recalls the emergence of Grime, making his first album in a cupboard and the impending fear of the millenium bug. Among many things this book provides an excellent, informed account of how the music industry operates from the inside looking out. He speaks about his great admiration of artists like Burial and Daft Punk, his Idols Wu-Tang Clan and Nas and his strong distaste for Aphex Twin.There are also two photograph sections with never before seen imagery included in the book. The first focuses Skinner as a child with his family and the very beginning of him musical career, with him decked out respectively in Fred Perry and Sovereigns. The second section is more career highlights, gigs infront of thousands of people with captions like I have no memory of where or when this is, but it looks dangerous and I dont condone it. That polo shirt got a massive stain on it which is not in this photo, so its a bit like looking at a picture of someone who died. and This is what rock n roll is all about beside an ariel photograph a massive crop circle shaped like his face in a field next to glastonbury. And finally a few wedding and family photos, showing what a sensible chap hes grown to become today.Skinner is quite an emotional person and the book definitely highlights that. He opens up and shares with us his personal accounts of dealing with epilepsy, which manifested when he was a child and progressed to become quite bad in his mid-teems with occasional relapses in later years. ie The first time he took an intercontinental flight to Australia while travelling alone. He woke up in first class with a pounding headache and had to be wheel-chaired off the plane. Not a great start to a new life! He gives a poignant insight into coping with the loss of his Father, and in more recent years developing ME (Chronic Fatigue System) from over working himself. From Drugs to tours, sneaker collections and a sponsorship with Reebok, robbing ice statues from Warner Brothers, bailing on awards shows and plain and simple smashing things for no reason other than finding it funny. In this book Skinner makes no excuses about succumbing to the cliches of fame and rockstar lifestyle and what it was like being subjected to it on both sides of the Atlantic.Its told mostly in chronological order with the book is split into five sections, one for each of his five albums and what that particular period in his life was actually like whilst making that album. I found this format very engaging as a reader. His musical journey over ten years with The Streets was a long meandering one. The Story of The Streets is a highly inspirational page turner, he gets quite philosophical and does tend to ramble at parts but Id recommend it to anyone looking for a bit of motivation or even just a light-read and a laugh. On a side note I had no idea that he wrote and produced most of the soundtrack for The Inbetweeners movie...conormcternan.wordpress.com
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