So far, Grimeories has looked at two pioneers of grime’s debut albums - Treddin’ on Thin Ice by Wiley as well as Boy in da Corner by Dizzee Rascal. Another pioneer of grime that I feel is left out of the conversations quite unfairly is Kano. Kano, an MC from East Ham, London and was an aspiring footballer in his youth. During the early, early days of grime Kano was rolling with the N.A.S.T.Y crew, with most notable members being Jammer, D Double E and Ghetts. They were acquaintances with both Dizzee Rascal and Wiley; sharing the popularity of the breaking new grime scene. With grime having reached the level of having albums released nationally; the whole scene seemed to gear up a bit and all began signing deals. The past two years had seen three albums already (feel free to correct if I’m wrong in the comments below) so for 2005 to have seen a fourth album with a new artist - arguably proved to the record labels at that time that grime could sell across the country. Kano is an old head as much as Dizzee Rascal and Wiley, making this album - Home Sweet Home a must-listen for grime fans.
Home Sweet Home featured writing credits from Kano, Ghetts, D Double E, MC Demon, Ghetts, The Streets and Katie Pearl. The production was handled by Kano, DaVinChe, Diplo, Fraser T. Smith, Mike Sinner, Mikey J, Paul Epworth, Terror Danjah and Tip C. The album was released on 27th June 2005 by 679 Recordings.
An album vastly different from Boy in da Corner and Treddin’ On Thin Ice - Home Sweet Home is a compelling listen that shows off Kano’s effortless delivery and skill at flowing round the mic. There’s great use of ad-libs and multi-syllabic rhyming schemes which is only complimented by the more toned-down approach to the albums production in comparison to the typical grime project. The album is arguably a hybrid of British hip-hop and grime. The production favours slower track pace, less use of synthesised effects and more focus on smoothing the vocals - setting them at the centre of it all in order for the audience to fully connect with the lyrics Kano uses. The subject matter and slang expressions used slaps the grime sticker on it; making it very accessible to audiences both sides of the pond.
Kano displays versatility and an interest in exploring different subject matters and styles of music. There’s a selection of electronic-heavy, high-tempo songs for raving or generally getting hyped to; reflective, cynical observations of life in London with smoother, atmospheric beats, songs that purely serve for Kano to flex braggadocio verses which succeed in giving the other high-tier grime artists a run for their money. The East Ham MC even experiments with a sample of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs, spitting bars with a slower flow to mix with the rock backing instrumental.
There are a few tracks that fall flat, not entirely based on them being a bad track, just generally by being overshadowed by the more high-energy tracks where Kano is at his best lyrically. Features such as Ghetts, Mike Skinner and Leo the Lion excel on the album; holding out against Kano’s own impressive verses. Seven of the sixteen tracks featured on the album that stood out are Home Sweet Home, Ghetto Kid, Ps and Qs, Mic Check 1-2, Nite Nite, Brown Eyes and Signs in Life.
The style of Home Sweet Home is different from modern grime but more could definitely do well with taking inspiration from this. Kano is part of but a handful of UK artists that fuse UK hip hop and grime perfectly along with Professor Green, Lowkey, Akala and Aaron Unknown as well as others.
Overall Home Sweet Home is an incredible album that quite rightly receives the high praise it has by many critics. Kano proves himself to be a contender for being the best MC in grime; his experimentation with different styles and intuition at picking great features left a lot to be desired for the second album. Home Sweet Home manages to cement Kano’s status in grime, which has continued to grow ever since.