Kano - 'Hoodies All Summer' Album Review
Kano was my first experience with grime and to be honest one of my first experiences with hip-hop in general, as his song 'P's & Q's' remained the one constant at pretty much every high school party and gathering, with the whole room erupting at the bar where he mentions Leeds (which still remains the only time I've heard it referenced in a song). Fast forward a few years and a BAFTA later and Kano has built himself up as of the UK's most distinctive artists, easily reserving his spot at the table of greats with Made In The Manor being one of the most beloved albums to come out of UK hip-hop and honestly Britain as a whole. So coming back seemingly out of nowhere with the announcement of his new album, Hoodies All Summer, there were definite feelings of apprehension rather than excitement as almost anything after Made In The Manor was destined to be at least a minor disappointment. But clearly the year that UK hip-hop flourishes just won't let that happen, as Kano proves on Hoodies All Summer that he is still one of the greatest to ever do it.
Opening with the fittingly titled 'Free Years Later', Kano comes right back in with the same punchy flows and poignant lines we've come to expect, but with a slightly more sombre and dark tone than before. This continues throughout the whole album which pulls the desperate cries for help under the surface of Made In The Manor right to the forefront. This is continued on the second track 'Good Youtes Walk Amongst Evil', accompanied by easily one of the weirdest and wonkiest grime beats I've ever heard that almost always sounds like it doesn't have any recognisable tempo or rhythm, but works because of this exact reason. Kano's precise and calculated flow brings all the mismatching aspects of this beat into place making for a pretty grand set-piece to kick off the album.
Skipping over the track 'Trouble' for now, Kano moves into some lighter, poppier bangers that use some heavenly steel drum and piano melodies but still contain one of the best motifs of this album, unexpected and wonderful beat switches. This is encapsulated in the emotional middle-point of Hoodies All Summer, 'Teardrops', a lyrically dense and heartfelt track that demands the listeners attention by way of a jarring and experimental beat switch that sacrifices a ballad-y piano track for a barebones and eerie instrumental that represents one of many moments in which Kano separates himself from his peers bringing through his creative song structures that are frankly innovative to UK hip-hop.
But far and beyond the thing that ties Hoodies All Summer together to be more than just a tight selection of great tracks is Kano's positioning as the mentor and wise sage that he is, using this album as both a war cry for London's people and a cry for help. The 3rd track 'Trouble' is the emotional and thematic climax of this, presenting some of the most vulnerable and emotionally honest bars of Kano's career, supplemented alongside the frankly amazing music video that also features a version of the grime banger 'Class Of Deja' that far surpasses the album version in terms of energy and excitement.
Both 'Trouble' and the closing track 'SYM' do away with the hallmarks of the grime banger and instead land closer instrumentally to a Kanye track and lyrically to a public speaker, as Kano violently rants and sings his way around the absolute crisis London is facing right now in a way that isn't cute or ego-driven, but honest and matter of fact. Kano has been in the scene long enough by now not to care about egos or status, and as a result he uses Hoodies All Summer as a cry for action, reclaiming his spot as UK hip-hop's top boy in the process.
Listen to the album in full below: