Kano Made In the Manor Parlophone
For those who never got to tune into the right pirate broadcasts, grime is a genre that has primarily existed on a track-by-track basis. Whether it’s Pulse X or Shutdown, according to the wider music listening public, the genre’s most pivotal moments have been – with the exception of Boy In Da Corner – one-offs. Today however, grime finds itself at the centre of the UK’s attention, embraced more than ever by the mainstream and with it the pressures of a mainstream artist; and that includes albums.
Made in the Manor then is one of the first major full-lengths of grime 2.0; except, it’s not really grime. Over the course of 13 tracks (15 if you count the bonuses) Kano explores the vast spectrum of UK bass and rap music, incorporating everything from hip-hop, to neo-soul, to garage.
Kicking off with Hail, a Rustie-assisted anthem featuring 80s metal guitar riffs, melodramatic church bells and a Next Hype sample, Kano reintroduces himself with aggression. However it’s second track T-Shirt Weather in the Manor that really sets the tone for the album. A lighter, piano-led beat allows Kano room to breathe, reminiscing about summers in the city. From chasing down ice-cream vans to dancehall parties, it’s a seemingly idyllic picture of the MC’s roots. Listen a little deeper however, and the police siren sampled in the beat hints at the ‘sweet summers turn[ed] sinister’ detailed on the second verse.
Meanwhile, This Is England’s hip-hop beat and K-a’s Mike Skinner-eqsue patriotism lend it a more rueful quality than the bangers that precede it on the album. Indeed, influence of The Streets’ more bittersweet material crops up throughout; from the wailing slow-jam Little Sis to the Damon Albarn featuring Deep Blues.
It’s fitting that Kano should choose this moment in grime’s history to reflect on his roots. However this indulgent insistence on looking back wears thin and, by the time the album closes with My Sound, you can’t help but wish Kano had come back with more raw appeal.