Kano works in the genre of grime and is well respected. We don’t live in London or have to deal with knives and murder on a daily basis so can’t really relate to the world he talks about. As he says: “And these gunshots never reach your town / It’s never on top when you leave your house / But when we go servants / We might run into some beef or somethin’.”
We do know someone who left Tottenham after being awoken by police looking in their yard for a gun used in a shooting; at least they had the choice. The people Kano sings about do not have that choice.
Musically, it’s a mix of testosterone-loaded competitiveness — opener Free Years Later is rapped so fast as to be incomprehensible — balanced by melody, with a slick production tempered by the bleak lyrics, in turn tempered by the lyricism of Kano’s writing. His vocal performances are perhaps a little one dimensional but the lyrics approach the level of modern poetry.
Typical is Good Youtes Walk Among Evil – the “good youtes walk among evil and win” being the point – where he ranges from the political (“Give a penny for the guy / But they won’t give a penny to the streets”) to his own stance (“Life of a lyricist in the times that we’re living in / Gotta speak mind of the biggest things”) to the everyday: “On my nan’s road / They fire 4fizzys / One day she opened the door / To empty shells on the floor / Welcome to my city.” (4fizzys is slang for .45 magnum, but you knew that).
Trouble (quoted at the start) kicks off by sampling campaigner Darcus Howe before again tackling a range of topics, addressing those in power (“These gunshots never reach your town”) to the reality of life (“All our mothers worry when we touch the road / ‘Cause they know it’s touch-and-go / Whether we’re comin’ home”) and even a slightly older man’s bafflement at the beefs of youtes: “Post code war, and that’s the thing now / Young bucks beefin’ over street signs.”
A grim commentary on modern life, for some.