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Kano - London Town

Kano, London Town

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

HAVING won a MOBO and securing a Brit Award nomination for his debut album How Sweet Home, expectations were always going to be high for urban London wordsmith Kano’s sophomore album London Town.

Fortunately, he rises to the challenge in brilliant fashion by delivering a record that’s packed with quality – from the high-profile guest collaborators, to the savvy beats, samples and orchestration, right down to the hard-hitting lyrics.

From the outset, Kano maintains that this is an album that reflects his personal observations of London. A product of his environment (as he states on opening track), Kano determines to “tell people about the London I know rather than all these people like Fergie talking about it”.

As such, the lyrics are colourful and reflect some of the seedier and more dangerous elements of living in one of the world’s most culturally diverse cities.

Title track London Town is a particularly heavy hitting starting point, in which Kano flows over a thumping bass that’s designed to take your head off. It’s born in England but could easily sit comforably with the hard-ass rhythms employed by the likes of 50 Cent and co.

Bad Boy, a little later on, continues the heavy hitting with some eqaully charged beats and a sample of Original Nutta by Shy FX. It employs backing vocals from Craig David to offset Kano’s gritty urban flow with something a little more smooth and actually has a very lasting effect.

Fightin’ The Nation, meanwhile, finds Kano commenting on Iraq, police fights and general western hypocrisy against the backdrop of a sample from Junior Murvin’s reggae classic Police & Thieves. The acoustic guitar is particularly effective in allowing Kano’s flow to take centre stage and is evidence of the artist at his most stripped back (until a thrilling back beat drops late on).

Much more intricate is Feel Free, his collaboration with Damon Albarn that also features a kids choir from Kano’s old school where his mum still teaches. It’s a busy record in so many senses, and one that tellingly wouldn’t sound out of place on a Gorillaz record. But it’s also evidence of Kano’s ability to mix up his sound and enable it to appeal to a wide demographic.

The same can be said for the headrush of a track that is Me & My Microphone, featuring Kate Nash. It explodes to life with a flurry of breakbeats, before dropping some excellent scratching and elements from 183 Trek. You’ll be shuffling along with it in no time, while hailing Kano as something quite special.

Not everything works as well, of course. This Is The Girl, his recent single featuring another guest vocal from Craig David, is the sound of the album at its most blatantly commercial and would feel more comfortable on a Craig David album than a Kano release.

And Over & Over employs a fairly average backbeat and rhythm section that seems to be inherited from the Snoop Dogg style of delivery. As such, it feels a lot more generic and pales by comparison to what Kano is capable of at his very best.

Fortunately, Kano finishes with a flourish, combining slinky beats, urban flow and soulful backing vocals on the quietly mesmerising smooth groover This Is My Life, featuring a lush contribution from Priscilla Jones.

It puts the seal on a sophomore album that really does confirm Kano as one of Britain’s brightest new talents.

Download picks: This Is My Life, Me & My Microphone, Feel Free, Fightin’ The Nation

Track listing:

  1. Product
  2. London Town
  3. Buss It Up
  4. Bad Boy
  5. Fightin’ The Nation
  6. Feel Free – Kano & Damon Albarn
  7. Sleep Tight
  8. This Is The Girl – Kano & Craig David
  9. Me And My Microphone – Kano & Kate Nash
  10. Over And Over
  11. This Is My Life (Thin Line)
  12. MC Grime

  1. This album is good but no way near the quality of Home Sweet Home.

    singh    Sep 11    #
  2. The album is good, but Home Sweet Home is so much better. Its a shame as it’s taken Kano so long to release his second album.

    Bob    Sep 16    #
  3. Kano's new album is bangin especially his track London Town and bad boyyyy even dow he may hav sum sika tracks in home sweet home …and kano is da pengggggg as well :P:P:P hehe

    mary    Oct 3    #