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Kano’s production associate Paul Epworth might’ve somewhat botched the point when he called grime, “The most punk thing that has happened in ages”, but he’s painfully close.
Of course punk(rock) as an ideology has long since been tainted by countless utter wankers without a self-sufficient idea in their empty-eyed heads, and any inner city spitter on the updated UK garage tip would likely take it as an insult. Angry rap-orientated music of any kind has always relied on the ubiquitous ‘hustle’; grime’s greatest gat in their arsenal is being, in the main, fearlessly good.
Kano is, fittingly, one of the best examples yet. Far from all of perfectly pristine debut album ‘Home Sweet Home’ is breathtaking experimental. Parts are even R&B enough to trouble MTV Base, filled with sufficient pop to rouse CD:UK. But Kano obviously point blank refuses to go near a studio unless the results are anything less than sparkling. It’s about songs.
The equation could never be that simple, naturally, but that’s the crux. Guests play a substantial part, on the mic and behind the dials, too, with ‘Reload It’ the all-star culmination of those cameos. Dirty South rap mogul and M.I.A. deejay Diplo takes control of frantic breaks and bouncing rhythms, allowing the emcee talents of D Double E and the crazily characteristic Demon to go double-time with equal exuberance to Kano himself.
Add in the riff from Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’ (‘I Don’t Know Why’), the best grasp of the subtleties of life outside grime since Dizzee Rascal’s first LP, and a triumvirate of the hottest underground hits in recent times (‘Boys Love Girls’, ‘P’s & Q’s’, and ‘Mic Check’) and – pow – the year’s most consistently head-whackingly smart album so far. Not within the confines of grime, black music, or, perish the genre, ‘urban’. Just 2005, full stop.
‘A star is born’ wouldn’t quite cover it, however, as Kano’s been one in his own mind for 20 years. It’s just taken this long for everyone else to notice.
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