Socialist Worker

Kano grapples with life for working class black people

The veteran grime artist’s new album Hoodies All Summer is the latest offering of an increasingly politically-motivated scene, writes Paddy Nielsen

Issue No. 2671

Kano

Kano counters racist steotypes from the mass media 


Hoodies All Summer is an album that is rooted in grime artist Kano’s experience of living in East London.

When interviewed before the album’s release he said, “It sounds quite sinister, but a hoodie is also like a defence mechanism—a coat of armour, protection from the rain.

“It’s like we always get rained on but don’t worry, we’re resilient, we wear hoodies all summer. We’re prepared for whatever.”

It’s a good title for an album that grapples with the life of working class black communities facing poverty-related issues, gang violence and racism.

The narrative from the mainstream media is that street violence and gangs are specifically a “black issue”. Kano counters this stereotype.

“It’s important to remember that these unfortunate situations come about because of circumstances that are out of the hands of the people who are involved,” he said.

“Not everyone is this gang-sign, picture-taking, hoodie-wearing gang member.

“Yes some people are involved in crime, and some people are not. They just live in these areas, and it’s a fucked up situation.”

Fear

“Trouble” is the stand out track of the album.

Its description of the daily fear of working class mothers who worry about the police and the lure of gang activities is moving.

“All our mothers worry when we touch the road/Cause they know it’s touch-and-go whether we’re coming home.” Kano also delves into the contradiction of being black and rich, yet still facing the daily racism of the state.

On the first track “Free Years Later” he references the fact that the current king of British grime Stormzy was raided by police.

“Babylon boy, look how they raided Stormzy/This is crystal not a case of 40s.

“They don’t want to see us off the estates with all these/Young, rich Morleys, still eating Morley’s.”

Musically the album fits together well with a combination of visceral electronic beats, strings and choirs.

It all adds to exciting switches in tempo and very quick changes in pace and intensity.

This has been a constant theme throughout all of Kano’s projects since the release of “Home Sweet Home” in 2004.

Pioneers

Alongside artists such as Skepta, Wiley and Dizzee Rascal, Kano is widely considered one of the pioneers of grime, British Hip Hop and culture.

He has dominated the scene with his sharp lyrics, positive messages and award winning projects.

What you feel is different though is that politics is now seeping steadily into the British grime scene.

Opposition to racism, the police’s tactics of stop and search and anti-government feeling that have always been there under the surface are now being voiced openly.

Kano’s album is a must-listen for anyone who is interested in grime.

It’s a further window into how anti-austerity and anti-racist politics continue to shape the scene.

Hoodies All Summer is out now

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