Everything about this says it’s not aimed at the Review Corner: we’re unlikely to use the word “manor” to describe any place we ever lived and we were never the types to pretend we were from Brixton instead of Congleton, and so unlikely to use the words bloodclart, gyal or dem.
Still, Kano has a lot of offer. He tells a good story, he seems honest in his lyrics and he’s not afraid to take risks musically. This is an interesting album, notwithstanding we have no idea what he is talking about in places. Kano plays grime and was voted best newcomer in 2004 at the Urban Music Awards; in 2014, he received the buffest badman-of-the-year award. We have no idea what that means.
Made In The Manor is Kano looking back at his roots and his youth, and how things have changed. Hail opens with rock guitar and a massive beat, and Kano doing a bit of an Eminem impression as he reflects that “They say grime’s not popping like it was back then/Rap’s not honest like it was back then” and how his stance has meant him not taking off in the States (presumably unlike Dizzee Rascal): “Don’t make money but it does make sense”, adding: “Crossing that pond and fishing for hits/We both gain from a little influence/But how comes nobody credits us Brits?/This ain’t no RP cup of tea music/It’s real East End theme music”.
There’s more reflection in T-Shirt Weather in the Manor, where he harks back to when “Dorothy be up but Jennifer be yawning/Rachel a get her hair braided, I spoil it” as opposed to the more adult experience of “And it could all change in a minute/I’ve seen innocent summers turn sinister/Tempers flare up, violence is imminent.”
This is England sees him give his version of this sceptred isle — “I’m from where Reggie Kray got rich as fuck“ and sadness at the American influence: “It’s not a hip hop party without a butt twerk/It’s not a real rap song without a cuss word.”
While most definitely grime throughout, the sound varies from the ultra-sparse (New Banger) to the more melodic. There’s a lot of wit too: “I buy the same Mr Whippy 99/But now I’ve got just as much problems and a flake ain’t one”.
It may have its flaws but at least he’s taking risks, and it’s interesting.