Olivia Rose Kano Grime Music Album

Photography by: Olivia Rose

Hood­ies All Sum­mer: Kano’s upbeat ode to London’s black youth

Review: In 2016, Kano delighted grime loyalists with Made In The Manor – a return to form musically. His new album sustains his second wind.

Label: Par­la­phone

Rat­ing: 45

Since name-drop­ping The Face on his 2005 break­out sin­gle Ps & Qs, Kano has had one hell of a career. His debut album, Home Sweet Home, is one of grime’s most trea­sured works. He’s front­ed a Mer­cedes com­mer­cial, act­ed as Sul­ly’ in TV dra­ma Top Boy and, in 2016, he made a blis­ter­ing return to form musi­cal­ly with Made In The Manor – his Mer­cury Prize-nom­i­nat­ed fifth stu­dio album. 

But between albums one and five, there were a few miss­es: the pop sheen of sec­ond album Lon­don Town brought smiles to the main­stream but failed to impress under­ground; its fol­low up, 140 Grime Street, had some strong tracks (Hus­tler, I Like It) but didn’t stick or bang as hard as its name would sug­gest; while Method To The Maad­ness – fea­tur­ing dance-ori­en­tat­ed pro­duc­tion from Hot Chip and Boys Noize – was the exper­i­men­tal record some of us would like to forget. 

Which leads us to Hood­ies All Sum­mer, Kane Robinson’s sixth stu­dio album. A wor­thy fol­low up to Made In The Manor, this short 10-track­er is – much like Skepta’s lat­est – grime (and rap) that any­one over 25 can appre­ci­ate. A mas­ter­class in UK lyri­cism, we see one of our great­est MCs at work, hop-skip­ping through rid­dims in his lyri­cal play­ground with rhymes that take us back to the good ol’ days, while touch­ing on some seri­ous social ills.

The sino­grime-tinged Good Youtes Walk Amongst Evil places you in and amongst the city’s inner work­ings (“live and direct from the bel­ly of the beast where we pour out Hen­ny for deceased”). There’s no glam­ouris­ing here, though instead he tells it how it is while instill­ing black pride in the peo­ple he ded­i­cat­ed Hood­ies to. This is calm­ly fol­lowed by the gospel lean of Trou­ble, an emo­tive track about black-on-black vio­lence and a washed-up gov­ern­ment, with a visu­al accom­pa­ni­ment which is wor­thy of an Emmy nod.

But it’s not all dark in tone: the Pop­caan-assist­ed Can’t Hold We Down is ded­i­cat­ed to Kano’s Jamaican her­itage, and you can clear­ly hear where the grime scene’s roots begin and end; there’s the post-dub­step of Got My Brandy, Got My Beats –fea­tur­ing Lil Sil­va – which is an intro­spec­tive, light­ly roman­tic song about a queen who now one-fin­ger skanks with­out me.” Then, there’s Class Of Deja with Ghetts and D Dou­ble E. This ode to pirate radio is already being labelled a clas­sic, and right­ly so. The entire album is pro­duced by Blue May and Jodi Milliner – two names unfa­mil­iar to the grime scene, but they’ve done well to cap­ture the essence of the 18-year-old genre.

Clos­ing track SYM, which stands for suck your mum”, fea­tures singing from the man him­self, and every­thing that the album is about – black pain, black pride, social injus­tice (suck your moth­er… if you think nig­gas just love these cuffs and riots”) – is cul­mi­nat­ed in this one track. Hood­ies All Sum­mer con­cludes with the feel­ing that Kano’s lega­cy, and the high stan­dard he reestab­lished for him­self with Made In The Manor, is very much intact.

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