The Legacy of Kano’s Made in the Manor


Bristol Academy Show 01/02/2020

Written by Will Nehra

Photos: 2&6 Collective Archives

It’s been four years since Made in the Manor was bestowed upon us by the one we know as “The Great Kano”. The prolific rapper has been at the forefront of the Grime and UK Hip-Hop scene for as long as anyone can remember. You would have to travel far and wide within the UK to find someone that doesn’t know who he is, especially now since the release of his two last albums: Hoodies All Summer and Made in the Manor

Before Kano released Made in the Manor, it felt to me that he was falling into obscurity. People were more interested in the legions of up-and-coming rappers, MC’s and DJ’s, who were pioneering new sounds, new flows and new styles such as Dave and Stormzy. These rappers were captivating the UK’s underground scene in a different way, with more melodic, easy-to-listen beats and flows that stood in start contrast to the fast, grimey beats and rapid, punchy flows of “old school” artists like Kano, D Double and Ghetts. 

Kano @ Bristol Academy
Photo’s: Will Nehra, 2&6 Collective Archives

In the six years before Made in the Manor, from 2010 to 2016, the world witnessed as Grime exploded into the forefront of the UK music scene. The genre would go on to garner millions of fans worldwide, championed by members of old guard like Skepta, JME, Dizzee Rascal and Wiley as well as the new up-and-comers, like AJ Tracey, Dave, Stormzy, Fredo, etc. who would garner huge popularity from young people in the UK and indeed, worldwide. Kano was active in this period, releasing the album, Method to the Maadness, as well as the EP’s, Not for the A List and Jack Bauer 2.4. These bodies of work were good, in fact I enjoyed them thoroughly, however I do understand why they failed to make much of an impact. They were competing with new sounds and new rising artists. 

These new artists, like Dave and Stormzy, have turned grime away from the genre that Kano helped pioneer. Their music doesn’t glamorise the street life of selling drugs, being in gangs and fighting for your postcode. Their music takes these concepts and uses them as a method of teaching; they talk about breaking away from that life through music, artistry, hard work and dedication. It’s no longer “cool” to be a gangster, selling drugs and hustling, rather these new artists preach growth, earning money and making the best of your life. This is a far cry from the message “old school” grime sent, but, to be fair, I do think that is because no one at that time had made it to the levels artists like Stormzy has reached today.

So, with the rising popularity in “new” grime, people fell out of love with the genre. Don’t get me wrong, it was still there and respected, cherished even, but the people’s imaginations had been captivated with the new wave and were only looking forward. 

Kano @ Bristol Academy
Photo’s: Will Nehra, 2&6 Collective Archives

Now fast-forward to 2016, when Kano released Made in the Manor. I remember actually going and buying the CD from my local HMV. I was still trying to avoid the inevitable concept of streaming music, preferring to buy or torrent all my music so that I actually owned it. I downloaded the album to my laptop and started to listen. The first track hit me like a punch from Mike Tyson. Hail, starts with a loud, explosive beat that got me excited instantly. It’s thick, looping beat, combined with Kano’s fast, punchy delivery as well as the homage to Tempa T’s Next Hype got me ready for what was sure to be a fast-paced, barrage of grimey lyrics and flows. If you need some sort of comparison, I got the same kind of feeling from Wiley’s first Godfather album. 

Kano @ Bristol Academy
Photo’s: Will Nehra, 2&6 Collective Archives

Then something happened. The song came to a dark, triumphant end and the next one started. This song was called T-shirt Weather In The Manor and while Kano supplies us with his typical, punchy flow the beat was a lot more melodic, a lot more relaxed, it instantly transports you away to a hot summer day, playing football in the park with your mates or having a BBQ. It cultivates such an uplifting mood; such a contrast to the previous song. This disparity is what defines the album.

Kano keeps to his grime roots with songs like Hail and 3-Wheels Up, in which he drafts in Wiley and Giggs but also jumps on the new sound that UK music had taken on in the years preceding the album. Songs like A Roadman’s Hymn and Endz use more melodic sounds, over which Kano delivers slower, deep, meaningful lyrics that echo the sentiment of new artists like Stormzy: the struggle to get out of the ends, to forge a better life for oneself and ones family. 

This is what is so amazing about Made in the Manor. It is an eclectic mix of old school grime, UK hiphop and new wave UK music and Kano shows that he can do it all, better than anybody else. The messages sent in songs like Little Sis and A Roadmans Hymn speak to you on a personal level, like he’s sitting there in front of you, imploring you not to make the same mistakes he did.

While the thick, muscular beats and punchy flows in 3-Wheels Up and GarageSkank will have you throwing gun fingers around and skanking out like all your favourite grime classics. This album really showed me Kano’s versatility as an artist and his ability to adapt to a changing scene and culture. It also goes to show how connected Kano is with his audience and how aware he is of the changing social landscape, that he is able to make music that resonates on such a personal scale. It goes without saying that he is one of the greatest artists the UK has ever produced and this album is his best. 

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