Mike Skinner, the British rapper better known as The Streets, moves across the stage, violently shaking a bottle of beer over his head, and spraying its contents all over himself and those near the front of the stage, without missing a lyric. He sings, shouts, and raps into the microphone as his body pulses with the music. Six hours earlier, when Street sat down for an interview with Mike Skinner, he was calm, quiet, laid-back. Are you surprised by your success? Yeah, I mean in the U.K., it started off really slow. It kinda grew slow and gradually got big. People weren't getting into it really. Then it kinda grew slowly, so it wasn't really surprising. But in America that was a lot more surprising, because for one, I didn't think they'd be able to identify with the it. Again it's moving slowly but I think because you're so far away, that the leaps that it takes, it's surprising. Why do you think U.K. acts have such a hard time making it big in the U.S.? Well, I think that anyone has it hard making it big in the U.S. and I think anyone has it hard making it anywhere. And I think, you know, the U.S. bands can cater to U.S. tastes and they have those tastes and there's always going to be different tastes in different countries. And that's why the U.K. band can do better in the U.K. than America. And also I think there's a lot of U.K. bands that try to do America on American terms and the ones who do work, that really do get embraced, are the ones who do it on their own terms. I think America really, they respect that. What do you think of the whole 'bling bling' culture? I just think it just reflects what those people want. It's interesting, bands like, you know, I think, if you've kinda grown up with nothing, the first opportunity, you're gonna try to get everything, so you know, even though the rappers don't really represent what normal people do, they represent what they want, and that's just as important. Although I don't think bands should always necessarily be about talking about things that everyone knows, but that can be good. If you talk about things that people want that's good as well. The bottom line is that all those bling bling records, people buy them. The one thing I've realized is that you can't make people buy records that they don't want to buy. So, I don't know. You know obviously, that's my strong point, not a lot of people have been doing the reality stuff lately. And that's quite refreshing and interesting. But I think that if everyone was out there was doing stuff about normal life, it would all be a little too ordinary wouldn't it? And if someone came along talking about stuff like bling bling, it'd be really exciting. Id on't think it's that what I'm doing is better, it's just so different, that it just makes it more interesting. How tired are you of being compared to Eminem? Not tired, I mean its something that everyone asks me who interviews me. I think that you have to be compared to someone. Do you think it's based on race? Yeah, well I think maybe in America. It's more of an issue in America. No one mentions the color of my skin in England. In America, they do pretty much every time. So that's just something that I think is in the American psyche. That's just cause the color of your skin, you can tell a lot more about someone by the color of their skin. In America, it's more safe to assume that if you're black, you're from that background, and if you're white you're from that background. But in England, that's no berring. There's people from all walks of life, from all cultures. It's a lot more integrated, England, a lot more integrated. So I think in America, you can be more sweeping. MTV quoted you as saying that you could go "toe-to-toe with Eminem anytime." Do you think you're a better rapper? No no no, that was quoted out of proportion, I think we were talking about drinking. That's the thing I've learned as well. You can have a conversation with someone and they'll take four words and blow it up. And that particular quote, once someone's got that, once I've said that, then it can be turned, and I hope it won't work against me. And I'm sure eminem can appreciate that and read between the lines. But no, I don't think I'm a better rapper than Eminem at all. But I think I'm more of a kind of a storyteller. I like the beat as well, but I'm more about the whole song. So you think you can drink more? I'd drink him under the table. Who would win in a fight? He'd probably beat me in a fight. Do you have a dream list of other artists you'd like to work with? I don't really believe in meeting your idols. I've got idols but I don't actually think I'd be that [excited] about working with them. The way I work is quite independent and quite focused and another person working with me, I wouldn't get the same results I don't think.