Kano ‘Hoodies All Summer’
After his MOBO winning album ‘Made In The Manor’ was released in 2015, Kano is back with his most important piece of work to date: ‘Hoodies All Summer’. His sound and message evolve with each release, this one being less personal and more communal with its tone. Even saying so himself; “[Made In The Manor] was about me, this album is about ‘us’.” It serves as an album that gives a voice to inner-city communities.
In ‘Free Years Later’ it seems that Kano insists on giving us a brief update since we last listened to him. Both boastful and gloomy, the rapper talks about new trophies in his cupboard. The first lines set the tone for the rest of the record; “Glass half empty, waking from dreams chasing my fears / I ain’t never cried so much tears in all these years.” It sees a change in beat half way through, blanked out in stages to make way for Kano’s lyrics.
Throughout the record, Kano uses samples from TV interviews, riots and news channels to push the political dimensions of his latest work, giving it a tangible gritty feeling. In ‘Trouble’ there’s a sample from Darcus Howe talking about the rebellion of young people. Sadly, the same speech is relevant to why mugging is widely practices amongst the current generation of teenagers in London. Kano then says on the hook “Politicians don’t make a sound, been oppressing us a couple centuries now” in what is a direct conversation with people living in the areas he hails from.
The East Ham MC, who has been a cult grime hero for 15 years now, having announced himself to the underground with debut single P’s & Q’s in 2004 , embraces his elder statesman status on this sixth album, cutting a caring big brother figure over soulful melodies. “Any beef can be squashed if hands can be shaken, any hand can be shaken when the blood dries – I guess that’s not a thug line,” the 34-year-old raps on piano hymnal Trouble, setting the blueprint for an album that shows understanding of the forces that drive young men to violence, but pleads with them to find another path. “Another funeral, another rest-in-peace, another judge gives out 20, welcome to my city,” he cries on Good Youtes Walk Amongst Evil, as sombre synths echo in the backdrop.
Kano has won the admiration of both his grime peers and indie luminaries such as Damon Albarn in his decade and a half of dextrous wordplay over UK bass and garage-indebted beats. He is yet, however, to enjoy a mainstream moment like those had recently by Stormzy and Skepta. The reflective, ambitious Hoodies All Summer isn’t likely to change that, but it will cement his reputation as one of grime’s wisest truth-tellers: opener Free Years Later is his very own Ultralight Beam, while Can’t Hold We Down speaks to the irrepressible spirit of both the rapper, and the community he aspires to uplift.
The last line on the album holds a poignant message and one that’s heard throughout the album:
“Different whip, different chain, different bracelet, if we don’t hold each other down we won’t make it…”
Whilst the lyrics are direct and, in your face, the production is just as precise and thought out. It flows with Kano’s quick pace and ability to turn on the heat so quickly. The album offers 10 tracks of quality and meaning over the meaningless repackaged corporate sound that is found more often than not in this day and age. Whether it’s Made In The Manor or the 17-minute video to accompany ‘Trouble’ and ‘Class of Deja’ on this project, Kano is someone who succeeds in consistently creating full-bodied pieces of art.
Post by: Sammi Swinton
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