Three years after his MOBO winning album ‘Made In The Manor’ was released, 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 a record that gives a voice to inner-city communities.
In ‘Free Years Later’ it seems that Kano Is 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.
- - -
- - -
At one stage the track starts to feel like a sing-along, song accompanied by chipmunk vocals and handclaps; before quickly veering back toward the seriousness that embodies the album, as a a recording of a distressed woman, talking about a stabbing she just witnessed comes in. The track ‘Teardrops’ uses a similar approach. An interview is played explaining the continuing battle between the disenfranchised and the system: “We’ve complained to the police and the police and nothing’s been done.”
As a rule whenever Popcaan touches a feature it turns to gold. This is indeed true with ‘Can’t Hold We Down’; an upbeat piano plays as a song that starts about partying turns into one about heritage. Kano spits a playful but serious verse; “All Range Rover, all black women, I bet the Daily Mail want photoshop a spliff in” before Popcaan comes through in the chorus with a heavy bass, made for skanking.
The all-star affair 'Class Of Deja' featuring D Double and Ghetts brings the intensity, a true salute to Deja Vu FM – the iconic pirate radio station. D Double reminds you why he's the reload king with full throttle energy, whilst Ghetts confidently boasts his skill on the mic with his skippy flow.
Closing track ‘SYM’, in which Kano takes us through years of oppression and racism in the UK, makes for one of the more memorable pieces on the album. Capturing years of black history from Windrush to John Barnes, With the hood-phrase ‘Suck Your Mum’ ringing throughout. In the second verse Kano celebrates how well people from his area have done "Great Grandkids are making G's here, we fly back to spend G's there". 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.
Words: Joe Hale
- - -
- - -