fri 18/08/2017

CD: Kano - Made In The Manor | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Kano - Made In The Manor

CD: Kano - Made In The Manor

The grime pin-up returns to his roots

These personal reflections – the metaphorical and physical journeys around his hometown – give an overview of the man of the manor
'Made In The Manor' talks about the streets Kano grew up on

Ten years after his debut album, the former N.A.S.T.Y Crew MC from East Ham has produced a distinctly British album. It’s probably his best yet. Kano has skirted the fringes of mega success and previous albums have been criticised for chasing hits and the American Dream rather than staying true to his own style. Now, he’s returned to what he knows, creating a series of polaroid snapshots of himself and what made him.

Made In The Manor talks about the streets he grew up on ("A Roadman's Hymn"), his mates ("Strangers"), his family ("Little Sis"), the trappings of fame and the reality of living the high life.

He blames blaming the postcode for part of the struggle

It’s the recognisably British tracks that are the best. "Hail" opens with a chiming bell and pretty heavy rock base telling us, "This ain't no RP cup of tea music, it's real East End theme music". A chilled soundscape unfolds with references to Colgate grins, toffee apples by the sea, Space Invaders and Wagon Wheelers. "T-Shirt Weather In The Manor" tells how you’ve "Gotta love London in the summer", while the catchy "Drinking In The West End" with its pinging bassline shows you how to live for the weekend. It keeps Kano’s technique and flow but is upbeat, positive. Then there’s "This Is England", where "you could be a villain or a victim". Sonically it has a pleasing, ballady chorus, lyrically it’s inspiring without being condescending.

"New Banger" has the rat-a-tat drums of a marching band combined with the garage grime of a big club anthem while "3 Wheel-ups" featuring Wiley & Giggs is a deep, shoulder-hunching nodder. The collaboration with Damon Albarn, "Deep Blues" has a noticeably different sound of electro waves and alternative ambiance.

"A Roadman's Hymn" is another landscape track. It’s BMX’ing through the streets of London, seeing kids looking up to gangsters as if they’re superheroes, watching people get caught up in the system, dreaming of getting out of the struggle and popping champagne in Camden to escape from it all. Kano puts on his MC voice for "Seashells In The East", where "there ain't no pier and no rock here but most of your peers will sell rocks here". He blames blaming the postcode for part of the struggle and quips "if you ain't dreaming then you ain't living". He scribes a warning that "There's still a war going on inside of a defeatist mind" – cautioning others not just to be a statistic, but to fight to be the minority that make it out.

Lyrically Kano’s as good as he’s always been, sonically his flow is good and there are a few killer hooks to get addicted to. But Made In The Manor is more rounded and grounded, there’s less darkness, less anger than before. These personal reflections – the metaphorical and physical journeys around his hometown – give an overview of the man of the manor. In this album, Kano is speaking his truth as an artist. Maybe this is finally his moment.

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters