Music

Kano: Made in the Manor

Kano’s fifth LP sees the rapper revisiting his childhood haunts in an attempt to come to terms with his past.


Kano

Made in the Manor

Label: Parlophone / Bigger Picture Music
US Release Date: 2016-03-04
UK Release Date: 2016-03-04
Amazon
iTunes

Grime’s profile has never been greater, its bond with hip-hop never tighter. At last year’s Brit Awards, Kanye West was flanked by a cabal of UK MCs -- including Skepta, Stormzy, and Jammer -- when he performed his single "All Day". More recently, Drake announced on Instagram that he’d signed to Skepta’s Boy Better Know imprint. Grime artists are rightly scrambling to capitalise on this heightened visibility.

By no means a rookie, Kane Robinson -- star of Channel 4’s crime drama Top Boy -- has been hustling since the early-2000s. Known in the grime arena as Kano, Robinson grew up in a house on East London’s Manor Road. As a teenager, he joined the N.A.S.T.Y. Crew -- which also consisted of Jammer, Mac 10, and D Double E, among others -- a group that’s now etched in the annals of grime lore. Made in the Manor, Kano’s fifth LP, sees the rapper revisiting his childhood haunts in an attempt to come to terms with his past. In a Guardian documentary on the making of his latest record, Kano is candid about the stories that informed Manor. “I think this album is kind of about a personal journey and family,” he says. “It seems a bit cliché[d] to say, ‘If you don’t know where you’ve been, you don’t know where you’re going.’ But I think there is a bit of truth to that.”

The record commences with a selection of certified ‘choons’. “Hail”, the opening cut, is an in-your-face fusion of arena rock and EDM. “New Banger” is similarly bombastic, with its obnoxious synthetic horns. Meanwhile, “3 Wheel-Ups” has an all-star lineup: Kano shares the track with Wiley -- who he previously clashed with at Lord of the Mics in 2004 -- and Giggs.

The structure of the record is disarming, insofar as the first few songs see Kano playing the part of the charismatic rogue, while the rest of the LP is all somber self-reflection. He treats the topic of estrangement on “Little Sis” and “Strangers”, which are about his half-sister and his former friend, Dean, respectively. “I knew if I… talk[ed] about stories that I lived through, and people that mean a lot to me, you know, you’re gonna have the good times and the bad times,” Kano tells the Guardian, “the nice side to the Manor and… the slightly more sinister side.” However, there really isn’t enough parity between these good and bad times on Manor. From the outset, listeners are positioned to expect an album of wall-to-wall hype tracks, but once the mid-section rolls around, it soon becomes clear that’s not what they’re going to get. Rarely is it a good sign when an album’s bonus track makes you wonder what could have been. Kano flows over a UK garage beat with supreme confidence on “Garageskankfreestyle”, a track unleashed on the world in 2015.

While his veteran presence allows him to sufficiently navigate his way through introspective material, Kano’s simply more commanding when he’s at the helm of so-called bangers. Consequently, Made in the Manor is an exercise in dashed expectations.

5

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.