DJ DeeKay - In The Mix

Sunday, 28 September 2008

"I've been like Arsenal so far, the skill is not a question // the question is, can I go so far?" ( c ) Kano

Kano's third album marks the return of the Grime scene's prodigal son to the scene which birthed him, a move which has incited both cynicism (from fans who are yet to be convinced) and fanfare (from The Guardian amongst other press eager to re-adopt the MC as their darling now that he's back doing the "brooding" music they love pretending to care about).

Irrespective of the opinions of fans with regard to Kane's intentions and motivations, "140 Grime Street" stands up as the scene's best commercial release since "Home Sweet Home", Kano's 2005 debut. The main feature of the lyrically outstanding "London Town" which was lacking, seems to have improved vastly with this latest release. Kano no longer sounds like the quasi-American Hip-Hop artist that appeared on his sophomore CD, and seems to have regained some desperately needed hunger and intensity. Don't get me wrong, this isn't the Kano of 2004 who fucked up every beat in his path, but it's certainly a start. Nothing on the album hints that Kane is the same MC that destroyed Ghetto Kyote or even that recorded Ps and Qs, but it would be far more abnormal if he was. Nearly half a decade has passed since his rise to prominence first began, and like any artist should, Kano has grown lyrically, his breadth of subject matter increasing as part of the process.

Highlights on the album include The Wire themed "Hunting We Will Go" which Ghetto destroys with the kind of effortless ease that has had many suspecting he may have long eclipsed his former Nasty Crew accomplice ("Convict like Akon, Kano, Ghetto, Stringer Bell and Avon"), and Aim For The Sky, the album's closing track, where Kano spits heartfelt and sincere bars over an exceptional Wiley beat. The album's main flaw is sonic repetition - Mikey J is responsible for the bulk of the production and while he is an outstanding talent, a few of the plodding, pseudo-rap beats lack the energy of lead single "Hustler" and at points the tracks mesh together. Perhaps Kane would've been better served using some of the Maniac, Nocturnal or even Rude Kid beats that were thrown his way.

However, despite it's few flaws, 140 Grime Street is a solid offering, and the first step towards what I hope will be Kano's return to his roots and departure from flirtations with the likes of Kate Nash. The lyrics are still there: it's no longer "if you don't wanna play gun to mum, let's play knife to wife // why waste a clip (I'm poor)" but an MC with his profile and more importantly his level of success just can't spit those bars. With the press and coverage this album should generate, it might just be what the Grime scene needs, irrespective of whether people feel it truly represents grime.

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