When talking about the true greats in Grime you cannot ignore Kano. Lyrically ferocious. Ice cold. A must-have in any Grime Mount Rushmore.
“In England where I’ll never sell more than an Indie band.”
How things have changed since those days Kano rapped about in Layer Cake, released 2007.
British music in the mid-00s was dominated by the Indie scene. 13 years later, the tables have turned – MCs are now the most in-demand musicians in Britain.
The likes of Skepta, Dave and Stormzy helped bridge that gap: Stormzy headlined Glastonbury, Skepta and Dave won Mercury awards respectively. Not to be outdone, Kano enjoyed a second wind in his career, partly due to the success of Top Boy.
The show, revived by Netflix (with the help of Drake), captured the imagination of an audience that might not be as familiar with the legendary Ps&Qs and Nobody Don’t Dance No More.
So, what do you do with this brand-new audience? You make more bangers.
Enter Made in the Manor. The album is arguably Kano’s best work to date. A personal account of his Newham upbringing, Made in the Manor displays all the attributes we love from Kano – an infectious flow, quotable bars and wordplay.
Old fans were rekindled with the Kano they fell in love with a decade ago, new fans were enchanted by the East London MCs’ spell.
If Top Boy and Made in the Manor was the rebirth, Hoodies All Summer was the christening. Kano’s sixth studio album was met with critical acclaim. Very few artists can examine the harsh realities of life and deliver it with anger AND humour. Kano is a modern-day wordsmith. The album was simply poetry in motion.
We’ve been blessed with music from Kano for just under 20 years now. From his early years in East London’s N.A.S.T.Y crew, Kano has always had an aura about him. He bares all in his music; yet, we still feel like we know nothing about him. A Batman-like figure in the Grime scene who lets his artistry do his talking.
I don’t think I am being hyperbolical by saying Kano has the best discography in Grime. Very few can rival it. Perhaps Skepta comes the closest? Maybe.
Nonetheless, I recommend anyone and everyone to do a deep dive into Kano’s discography. You will find gems so rare you wouldn’t want to share it with the world. Lucky for you, I am here to distribute some of this gold.
I’ve chosen 5 tracks, all from mixtapes, that all Kano aficionados and new fans need to know. The tracks that have not received the recognition they deserve.
Kano – True G
Released in August 2009. Still hasn’t received its dues in 2020. True G is peak Kano. Skippy flow. Those strings. That energy. A masterclass from a true G.
Kano – Be Real 2007
Real bars. Real message. Kano the poet at his best. Layer Cake, very rightly, gets love from the Kano Mixtape; however, don’t skip past two tracks on the way, Be Real and…
Kano – Anger Management
Gully Kano. If I had one wish it would be to hear more Kano over dancehall.
Buss It Up featuring Vybz Kartel is his biggest dancehall record. Anger Management is his best.
The East London MC duppied the legendary Anger Management riddim. Prepare to reload this once or five times.
Kano – Dun Know the Myspace
Ahh, Myspace… I wonder what good ol’ Tom is up to these days. Grime played an integral role in the rise of Myspace. JME used the platform to shift BBK t-shirts.
He also coined the phrase ‘dun know the Myspace. If you’re on a nostalgia trip, Dun Know the Myspace will bring back many memories.
Kano – Blood My In Is Music
In my opinion, I saved the best till last. Kano over Common’s Blue Sky is a stunning account of an artist falling out of love with music and wondering where he fits in the ‘industry politics’.
An incredibly honest depiction of life as an artist. In perhaps his lowest moment in his career, Kano was still able to deliver perfection. A true artist.
Label Manager, Radio producer and playlist specialist, David Akosim has worn many hats in his music career. He spent 4 years at Radio 1 and 1Xtra pushing underground club music, working with the likes of Logan Sama, Sian Anderson, Deadmau5 and TQD. In addition David was part of the 1Xtra playlist team curating the daytime sound of the station. As manager of his own label, Resonate Sounds, David is at the forefront of pushing new innovative bass music in the U.K