The Streets A Grand Don't Come for Free (Warner) In an era when Britain's poet laureate Andrew Motion writes odes to the England rugby team and presides over football terrace chant competitions, it's not unrealistic to suggest Mike Skinner (aka The Streets) may one day hold that lofty post. Classic lyricism isn't the rapper's forte, yet he so cleverly crafts songs about the mundanity of suburban life that no peer can hold a candle to him. There's no murder, guns or hatred that is the staple of US hip-hop. Instead, we have tales of losing money and love, betting on a crap football team and popping pills. The 11 tracks combine to form a narrative interwoven with familiar themes and characters. Nothing much really happens, yet A Grand Don't Come for Free resonates as much as anything in the kitchen-sink drama tradition of Ray Davies, Paul Weller and Squeeze's Difford and Tilbrook. Skinner - who still works from his bedroom studio - displays the same gift for a hook, and use of samples that made his groundbreaking debut Original Pirate Material a stunning success. His delivery is rigid and at times awkward, but his narration draws you in, a confidante whom you relate to or sympathise with. On the breaking-up song Get Out of My House - a jousting duet in which he's harangued by C-Mone - Skinner admits: 'It's hard enough to remember my opinions without remembering my reasons for them.' The single Fit But You Know It, which is getting Hong Kong radio airplay, grates after a while, but the standouts include the soulful Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way, sublime Blinded by the Lights and imploring Dry Your Eyes. Skinner may not be a laureate, but he is Britain's finest street poet.