We don’t really see the type of artist that Kano is nowadays, he’s the type of MC that lets the music marinate. We don’t see him on features throughout the year in the run up to the album, nor do we see him in and out of social media rants and petty arguments week to week. That’s not to say any of these things are bad, because we all want to hear top line art from our favourite musicians on a regular basis. It does mean, however, that as time passes by the anticipation for his word grows, and because he puts so much stock into his pen, his words often live up to the excitement. ‘Hoodies All Summer’ has been three years in the making, and by his own admission it’s a record that looks outwards in comparison to the Mercury nominated ‘Made In The Manor’. Over its ten tracks, the record confronts issues faced by young black people in the here and now: knife crime and gang life are spoken about with a sobering empathy, and the former Nasty Crew MC reaches into his roots for a celebration of his own culture.

‘Good Youtes Walk Amongst Evil’ drops us “live and direct from the belly of the beast, where we pour out henny for the deceased”. Those are his own words, and boy are they sharp. Backed by cracked out, brittle soundscapes, Kano treats the microphone like a spindle, wrapping round words at a ferocious pace. He’s the conductor of this oral freight train, and we the listener get a light speed tour of his thoughts on the subject at hand. As the track progresses, he highlights the class difference of kids from the ends and kids from a privileged background. Later on, he recounts that his life could’ve gone down the wrong path hadn’t it been for positive influences in the music world. Kano gives an empathetic shoulder to the people going through that life, he remarks “to the ones knee deep in it, I can’t blame you for this shit, the game’s fucking rigged.” It’s a statement dripping with understanding – and his life experiences and age do give him the distance to say that – but it’s also clear he gets the implications, evident from the call to talk about the issue as the track winds down.

“Trouble” continues on similar topics, opening up with a speech from activist Darcus Howe, which highlights the inequalities in society, and notes that police and prison brutality contributes to a waste of creativity and human life. Kano expands the ideas told in the speech, riffing on the difference inner city kids face compared to kids outside those areas, as well as the complete ignorance to those challenges from politicians. The instrumental is led by a piano riff and a gospel choir, and as it plays out is a very mellowed beat with plenty of space. That all changes around the middle of the track, when as like the video, a young kid gets shot and we are privy to the environment surrounding such a scene – shots firing, screaming, crying and load of fuzziness in general. As the track starts to finish, Kano finds celebration in the cracks, exuding the virtues of friends finding success. It’s a testament to the curation of the album, as the subject matter blends fluidly from one track to the next.

‘Pan-Fried’ and ‘Can’t Hold We Down’ come straight after each other, feeding off the mood of celebration that Kano hints at on the previous track. The former pools in Kojo Funds, leaning into the afro-swing style that he has been a pioneer of in the last few years. Sun drenched with nimble panpipes, Kano takes stock in the journey, recounting tales of high end cars, flights and more. The latter sees Popcaan take the hook, while Kano extols the importance of Buju Banton and painting a vivid picture of a celebration, signing off with the crafty line ‘I bet the Daily Mail wan’ photoshop a spliff in’. These two tracks are flat out celebration tracks, party tracks if you will. From Windrush to Mark Duggan, form 696, the institutional attempt to shut down Giggs’ career and the eroding of grime’s classic meeting spots, Black culture, life and music has been up against it from the get go. Obviously, there is progress to be made and the aforementioned are just a smidgen of the experiences we’ve taken in from the news, but the contribution made by black people to this countries culture is vast, and in turn the current success it is seeing is more than deserved, so why shouldn’t the creators celebrate something they have made?

Kano turns back the hands of the clock, bringing in D Double E and Ghetts for the weaponized grime of ‘Class of Deja’. The title nods to the trio’s old stomping ground, pirate station Deja Vu FM, which saw many a grime MC grace its airwaves in the early years of the genre. The track is rapid-fire: Kano shoots out brags like it’s nothing, building up to a scintillating double time verse where he cements his status as one of the genres best. Double bellows out his classic lines for the hook, while Ghetts joins in for a heady guest verse and goes back to back with Kano, one mic each style that encapsulates the perpetual energy blast that only the grime form can bring. Some would have you believe that grime is out in the cold, a legacy motor that can’t keep up any longer, wheezing behind newer, flashier models like drill and UK Rap. ‘Class of Deja’ pays no mind, and proves that there’s nothing more salient than a few legends going back to the dojo for a friendly sparring session.

You’d be forgiven for expecting more grime heat like the previous track on “SYM”, but Kano employs a funny musical bait and switch, opening the track with a choir of angelic voices belting out the line ‘suck your mum’ like it’s the last number at the school play. Jokes aside, it’s a wholly serious (and good) track that leads with the line, “suck your mother and die, if you think n**** just love these cuffs and riots.” It’s a track that dares the listener to imagine more than just confined stereotypes of black people, skating over colonialism, physical racism and the ugly conduct of parliament toward the Windrush generation. A poison dart at the institutions that rule, he laments the attempted banning of music genres, bringing into focus the surveilling of creativity put on Black people by the government, asking them why they are surprised at groups of young people going down the law breaking route. It’s a rousing curtain call, with Kano’s tone becoming more urgent as the beat builds, ending with a call for unity – “if we don’t hold each other down, we won’t make it.”

‘Hoodies All Summer’ is many things, maybe too many things to sum up in just over a thousand words. But we look to our artists to conceptualise and verbalise the things that are happening in the present, we want them to make the issues of the day digestable without ever trivialising them. In an time where so many negative things are happening, maybe ‘Hoodies…’ can be a link, treating a much spoken about topic with empathy and helping us to view it through a more understanding lens when it is absent from most of our politicians and mainstream commetariat. Who knows? As ever with music, it is always subjective, and there are things people will take from it that can’t possibly be put into written form. One thing is for sure, though. Kano has made an album for the ages, and its words will resonate far beyond the first week hype of streaming and adulation.


Posted by:Ryan Moss

I'm the sole founder, editor and writer for The Art Of Grime. I love grime and want to push all the sick artists doing things at the moment.

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