'I felt obliged to humanise these situations': Kano on how modern Britain informed his new album

'I felt obliged to humanise these situations': Kano on how modern Britain informed his new album

Kano has told Music Week that success for his upcoming sixth album, Hoodies All Summer “would say a lot”.

The East London MC, who won a GRM Daily Rated Award and received BRIT and Mercury Prize nominations for his last record, 2016’s Made In The Manor (80,625 sales, OCC), stars on the cover of the new issue of Music Week, out now.

Parlophone will release Hoodies All Summer on August 30, while two songs from the album, Trouble and Class Of Deja (feat. D Double E & Ghetts) are available now. The tracks came with a 17-minute film made by Aneil Karia, who directed Kano in the forthcoming third series of Top Boy. It has 275,589 views on YouTube.

Trouble features a clip of a woman reacting to witnessing a stabbing and a recording of the late journalist and activist Darcus Howe.

“I’m the same but my life is so different, I’ve experienced so much more. I’m not the person to get to a position and move away [from my roots], it’s made me look back and analyse even more,” Kano told Music Week.

“That’s affected my songwriting, my knowledge of music, production, storytelling. I’ve just grown. Maybe this album feels intense, but we’re in an intense time. That’s why the urgency is there, it’s very direct.”

 

If I didn't do this, then who would?

Kano

The rapper, real name Kane Robinson, said he’s seeking to document Britain in 2019 with the album, which was recorded to tape and features additional guest spots from Kojo Funds, Lil Silva and Popcaan across 10 tracks.

“I have a responsibility to live in the now and document it, to talk about what’s happening and what’s real to us,” he said. “Looking out at our scene, everyone plays a role. If I didn’t do this, then who would?”

Kano spent time in his East London home after touring Made In The Manor, observing the city.

“Seeing the violence among certain youth, it affects me sometimes,” he said. “Unfortunately, it gets to the point where you hear another story on the news, you flick over to Sky Sports and then it’s gone, you’ll never remember the name. I felt obligated to humanise these situations. It’s not in a preachy way, it’s not like, ‘You must not do this’ or ‘You must not carry a knife,’ it’s about understanding the psychology behind the need to do that.”

The MC said he doesn’t believe media representation of youth violence is always fair.

“You hear about these stabbings, and the one picture in the media of the kid that died is the one doing that [gestures the outline of a gun] in the camera and that’s gun fingers, so he must be in a gang,” he said. “What the fuck are you talking about? They’re not necessarily in a gang, this can just happen. Things like this happen all the time and it’s fucking sad. It’s not always about politicising it and blame, let’s just be hurt for a minute. Let’s not move on, let’s stay here, in this.”

We've got to give artists a chance to grow

Kano

He added that his music could serve as an “inspiration” to young people. “I know what nurture and ambition can do for you; I’m no different to anybody else out there from where I’m from,” he said. “I want to be an inspiration to people, I would have been inspired by a character like me, as I was with D Double E and people like that.”

Kano also opened up about censorship around certain strands of rap music, and said: “It feels like it’s been [around] black music, from jungle to garage to grime to drill, it feels like there’s always been a ‘ban X’ brigade. I don’t get it. I’m an artist, so censoring art is something I couldn’t agree with.”

He said the music industry has a duty of care to young musicians. “Artists grow and experiences expand,” he said. “Someone might not be the same artist when they’re 18 as when they’re 24, we’ve got to allow these artists a chance to grow, and keep it as real as possible.”

Kano’s long-time manager Richard Thomas and Parlophone co-preisdent Nick Burgess also feature in the cover story, which subscribers can read in full online here.

“Kane has made his best album,” Thomas said. “If anyone was going to make a record like this, it was going to be Kane, none of his peers are fighting for that same cause.”

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