Published Sep 04, 2019Hoodies All Summer, the sixth studio album from grime scene veteran Kano, manages to pack a lot into just under 40 minutes. Kano's wordplay is as sharp and clever as ever, and his delivery ranges from a ferocious growl on "Free Years Later" to gentle and melodic on "Trouble." His ability to pack syllables into bars without making it sound forced, and his gift for punch lines, are still unrivalled.
But more importantly, he uses those 39 minutes to paint a picture of a city, in this case, London, fraught with tension. A place where the solution to a tragic knife crime epidemic is heavy-handed, racially biased policing. Where the grandchildren of immigrants are still often treated as outsiders, gentrification pushes people out of their communities, and no one seems to especially give a shit.
But it's also a city where, in spite of all that, people keep living. They fall in and out of love. They survive. They find humour amongst the bullshit. (Even at his most serious and political, Kano packs a razor-sharp wit and a penchant for occasionally winking at the crowd. "SYM," which features a choir angelically singing the line "Suck your mum," on a song about racism and cycles of poverty, is great.)
The production on Hoodies, which comes courtesy of relatively unknown duo Blue May and Jodi Milliner, is every bit as well-executed and wide-ranging. May and Milliner move easily from blues-y piano riffs to throwback UK garage drum patterns and chopped-up vocal samples. "SYM" starts with a gospel-inspired choral hook before descending to glitchy, industrial rage, then swinging back again. On "Good Youtes Walk Amongst Evil," the duo get deep into the dark waters of post-dubstep.
Is the best rap/rap-adjacent album of the year? It's definitely a contender. Is it the most important album of the year? Probably. Should you be listening to it right now? Without question. (Parlophone)