A few days ago Kano dropped one of the most important album in years. This is an album that will change the landscape of UK music.
Kano has always been a MC who has stuck to his guns and been unapologetically himself and this album is no different. He is undoubtedly one of the best UK MCs of all time, I’d even go as far to say he’s one of the best MCs in the world, period.
I’ve been a fan of Kano’s for well over a decade. I first used to listen to him when he was spitting alongside MCs like D Double E and Sharky Major as part of Nasty Crew in 2002. My cousin would record the Rinse and Dejavu FM sets on tape and bring them down to me at Uni in South-West London. Around the same time I bought his first solo release, Boys Love Girls, on vinyl and played it in all my grime DJ sets.
Kano emerged as one of the stars of Nasty Crew and became a respected artist in his own right. One of the few grime MCs at the time who was able to translate his bars into quality songs. Kano’s first album ‘Home Sweet Home’ is considered one of THE moments in UK music, one of two classic grime albums, alongside Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Boy In The Corner’. The album, released in 2005, was the soundtrack to life for so many people at the time and for many years after it’s release.
His last album, ‘Method to the Madness’, was released in 2010 after which he took some time out to pursue other ventures, notably to star in the TV series ‘Top Boy’.
So roll onto 2015. I’m not going to front, I questioned Kano’s return and direction in music after he released the tracks ‘Hail’ and ‘New Banger’. The tracks were ok but I, along with plenty of other people, didn’t quite feel that it captured the essence of Kano’s sound or was representative of his ability. However, Kano followed that up with the release of the brilliant tracks ‘Garage Skank’ and ‘3 Wheel Ups’ (which I blogged in a previous post: What music I want to hear when my wife and I go raving again) which let everyone know that Kano was back and thus built great anticipation for the album.
Kano made us wait for ‘Made In the Manor’, but it was worth it. Six years from his last project and we are now in a time where there is pressure on artists to fit in with the current sound and deliver a product quickly. But Kano took time to perfect this project. It would have been easy for him to get caught up in the current Trap Rap, Dance or Grime sounds and produce something that he thought would fit in with the current scene. But he was brave and went against the grain. This is why the album is so important and why he has changed the game. Kano has changed the direction of UK music by making it cool, acceptable and to some extent, necessary to be 100% true and honest to yourself and your sound, regardless of what is being played on the radio. Each track paints a picture of life in the UK and the documentary released to support the album offers a great insight into the mind of Kano as he was making the album.
‘Made In The Manor’ is an eclectic album, not tied down to a particular sound. The production is experimental and powerful, full of soul, layers and rawness without compromise. The lyrics are real, relatable and paint vivid stories as only Kano can. My personal favourite tracks are ‘Roadman Hymn’ and ‘Strangers’. Having said that, it’s one of those albums that the more you listen, the more you discover so I’m excited to take more time to listen and appreciate the body of work.
The release of this album, and the epic Fire In The Booth released today, will no doubt have some MCs rethinking their approach. I’m interested to see how some of the other top MCs respond as Kano has set LEVELS.
Every so often an album comes along that changes the direction of music. This album is one of them. Be sure to purchase the album!