I’ve been tweeting Kane Robinson (aka Kano) several times over the last year or so, wondering about any new material. I know that a new series of Top Boy is forthcoming this autumn but I was really missing his hyperactive flow. Finally, fresh tunes arise, at just the right time.
‘Trouble’ and ‘Class of Deja’ allow him to showcase his skills in the finest ways possible. Remember, he is the Don – been around since 2004 and crops up as a guest on Wiley’s releases –amongst many others- but he is in his own element when flying solo with others backing him, in this case fellow Grime artists D Double E and Ghetts on the ripper that is ‘Class of Deja’. He’s even been generous enough to produce a 17-minute video that incorporates both tunes and some live skanking that blows up with pure fire – the energy is kinetic and palpable.
The subject matter of ‘Trouble’ initially reflects the feel good tone of ‘T-shirt Weather in the Manor’ from his previous, Mercury prize-nominated album Made in the Manor, until the positivity is cruelly interrupted by a knife attack upon an innocent teenager – completely wrong place, wrong time and even more heart breaking since it comes from mistaken identity. In the video, the victim’s traumatised brother comes up with a piano refrain which transforms into Kano speaking up about violence, introduced by a voiceover from the late Darcus Howe, a political firebrand himself and thus, entirely appropriate, as the focus falls on the waste of young life due to street violence.
‘Class of Deja’ brings in some doleful keyboard refrains, building up the levels, fully amplified by the tight rhyming of Kano and his two guests. Ghetts opens with ‘bi di bop bop’ whilst Kano is ‘trying to keep out of trouble’ as the ‘soldiers keep falling’; meantime, D Double goes off steaming in with a frenetic, tag team approach. It is vintage Kano but still sounds SO NOW, SO RELEVANT. There is light, even when confronted by the darkness and grim reality of knife crime.
Kano’s delivery is hypnotic, soulful, it jumps around in a glorious syncopation of syllables and trademark call and response – he often veers between full phat flow and a sweet, often tender vocal in the chorus, musing about ‘running into some beef or something.’ He can find joy and hope in the midst of tragedy, which emphasises his pure skill. On the evidence of these two tracks, he is back, the ruler’s back; the sound of East London is in booming, full effect. Any beef comes with a wicked smile, riding the rhythm and the finest, platinum level flow.
As Ghetts opines: ‘impeccable form’. Right there, bi di bop bop. The soundtrack for the rest of YOUR summer has arrived. Oh and Kano’s new LP ‘Hoodies All Summer’ drops on 30th August – mark your diary and prepare to have your anticipation rewarded in bulging spades. There is really no better way to fill up your headphones and cause your speakers to bounce in triple time.