London born Kane Robinson, better known as the rapper and actor Kano is back with his eagerly awaited fifth studio album. A long six years after the release of Method To The Madness comes Made In The Manor, one of the most relevant and honest sounds, not only from Kano himself, but that British music has heard in a long time.
The album features work from a host of producers including Fraser T Smith and Rustie, Mele, Mikey J, Blue May, Zeph Ellis and Swifta Beater. Blur’s Damon Albarn also features in another collaboration with Kano on “Deep Blues” after the pair first worked together in 2010 on “Plastic Beach”.
Kano was amongst the first artists to bring grime music into the mainstream over a decade ago and this album proves exactly why. True to the genre, this album takes influence from a variety of styles, like the strong drum beats from drum and bass, dancehall rhythms and exceptional lyricism seen in garage music.
Many have named 2015 as the year of the revival of grime and contributing to this, was the release of “Hail” which features as the opening track to Made In The Manor. The track opens with chiming, church like bells and an angular heavy rock bass line to accompany the vocals that are delivered with a certain attitude. The stand out feature of this song, as with much of Kano’s work are of course the lyrics.
The piece quietens to virtually a Capella for the line “this ain’t no cup of tea music, it’s east end theme music“, to make you stop and listen to, in my opinion, one of the most important lyrics of the album. It gives a solid reflection of exactly what Made in The Manor, and grime as a genre of music, are about.
Along with the album, Kano created a short documentary to go alongside its release to give his listeners an insight into the meaning of this music and the inspiration behind in. During this, he reveals that the opening line of “T Shirt Weather in the Manor” – “69 Manor Road, Sunday morning“ took him back to his youth, being his childhood home, which became the start he needed to create this album.
The song has a real feeling of innocence with the lyrics about him growing up and the difficulties that come with gaining fame in the east end. This is also reflected in the piano introduction and accompaniment, making the track sound close like a ballad.
The track that is the most stand out and memorable however, is “Little Sis”. Against some of the grittier tracks like “This Is England” and “3 Wheel-Ups”, it comes across so heartfelt. It has a real angelic sound with the slow, soft drum beats and the pop-like piano chord progressions, together with the choral choir sounds, which is how many would see a little sister. The song is said to serve as an olive branch to his estranged sister but whether that is the case or not, it is still a song about families that is beautiful, relatable to many and extremely emotional.
Kano has always been just on the cusp of a major success, but this album should see a change to that. Made In The Manor is less dark and angry than his previous work but the most personal without a doubt. In his documentary, Kano stated that to produce an album like this, he needed growth and life experience to do it justice and he has definitely achieved that.
It is one of those relevant yet timeless albums that tend to come around every now and again, and thirty years from now, it probably still will be. Kano’s Made In The Manor is out now via Parlophone Records, purchase it on iTunes here.
Words by Emma Exelby