The last time we saw London wordsmith Kano his debut album - `Home Sweet Home' - loved by fans and critics alike, had sold over 100,000, he'd sold out the Astoria (2,000 cap.) and picked up a Brit nomination & MOBO award along the way.
Back with new album `London Town', which features Damon Albarn, Kate Nash, Craig David and Vybz Cartel, Kano keeps with the battling ethos he learnt working his way up from the grime scene into the mainstream - showing anything they can do... Kano can do better.
The collaboration with Damon Albarn on `Feel Free' could have come straight from the last Gorillaz album, complete with a kids choir from Kano's old school where his mum still teaches. Kano moves with ease from this epic dub'n'beats number to pure pop future hit in the shape of disco-soul `This Is The Girl'. Kano has even enlisted Craig David to appear on it. A natural collaborator for Kano, a singer who had come through from the garage scene on Artful Dodger's records, then gone onto sell 11 million solo albums (and still only 25).
The nostalgic number `Me And My Microphone', meanwhile, recalls the days with him and his boys, jammed in his hot little room taking turns on the microphone, dreaming of making it big like the So Solid Crew. The track features Kate Nash on the chorus, who he messaged on Myspace way before her deal, the hype and the number 1 album, simply because he thought `that voice would work'.
Coming to a close with Kano's take on Junior Murvin's reggae classic `Police & Thieves' - `Fighting The Nation' which talks of Iraq, Police fights and general western hypocrisy, you wont be able to help think that Kano has been gone for way too long.
`London Town' is the perfect predecessor to `Home Sweet Home', full of edgy production and Kano's engaging lyrics - served up in the form of sure-fire hits. This 20 year old is set to rise to any challenge you set him - just watch him go.
finds East London MC/producer Kane Robinson stepping further outside the grime scene that spawned him. Kanos greatest skill has always been the versatility of his flow, from unflappable ghetto gangster to silver-tongued Lothario in the flip of a beat--and here, he applies such lyrical flexibility to a broad range of styles, from swaggering choppednscrewed US hip-hop to candy-sweet R&B, playground sing-alongs to earnest raps atop acoustic guitar. Satisfyingly, he comes out swinging: London Town
s first four tracks set out to nip any chatter about selling out in the bud, brooding battle tracks characterised by belly-shaking beats, tinny snare, and Kanes calmly assured delivery: "It sounds like grime, but a little slower/Im a lot wiser, but a little older". Further in, though, we find our man experimenting with different styles and sounds, and inviting in a surprising line-up of guests. "Feel Free", featuring Damon Albarn, could almost be a Gorillaz track, skippy beats and chilly synthesiser and a childrens choir a la Pink Floyds "Another Brick in the Wall". Kate Nash supplies the chorus to "Me & My Mic", a gleaming back-in-the-day number that twinkles like a pop diamond. And Craig David shows up on "This Is the Girl", a new school R&B number with crossover stamped all over it. --Louis Pattison