Ryan Dombal
April 24, 2006 AT 04:00 AM EDT

To American ears, it’s odd to hear an album about the trappings of rap stardom from a goofy twerp who couldn’t pay his way into a celeb rag. But, as Brit MC Mike Skinner (a.k.a. the Streets) explains on ”Two Nations,” a stinging U.K.- versus-U.S. track from his nervy third LP, ”Understated is how we prefer to be/ That’s why I’ve sold 3 million and you’ve never heard of me.” The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living undercuts potential mo’ money, mo’ problems clichés with a cheeky self-awareness that transcends national borders.

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